The future shines brightly on 2000AD

Today I wanted to chat about my favourite comic for a bit, as not only has it been a while since I last did, but the landmark Prog 1900 will be arriving on my doorstep this Saturday, bringing with it the return of two series’ I’ve sorely missed – Kingdom by Dan Abnett and Richard Elson (I recently got my hands on the first novel adaptation of the series too, Fiefdom, written collaboratively between Dan and his wife, Nik-Vincent), and Stickleback by Ian Edginton, a man whose second name I’ve been spelling incorrectly until now on this blog, and D’Israeli. And if the return of these two stellar series’ wasn’t enough, a new Dredd epic by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra will be beginning too. Nice, eh?

This means you can expect a review of that Prog, and maybe when they’re done, some of the series’ (Greysuit is also returning after a fairly lengthy hiatus and should be interesting) too. Definitely the latest epic at least, seeing as I imagine that it’ll either be the last major Dredd arc for the year or the one story leading us straight into the next epic, Dark Justice of Prog 2015, or possibly even both.

Also coming up on the blog, I wanted to talk about comic books themselves and how well I think the various companies publish them. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about since the moment one of DC’s trade paperbacks pissed me off with its awful binding (I believe it was Batman: Hush), but it was receiving a free copy of Rogue Trooper: Tales of Nu Earth Vol. 4 earlier today for getting my letter published in the most recent issue of the Megazine, #352, that made me want to write about the subject soonish, as it suddenly occurred to me while skimming through the book how comfortable and easy it is to read compared to a DC or Vertigo book. On the subject of those two companies, I may even bemoan advertisements in single issues and how much those two take the piss there too.

But back to the subject at hand – 2000AD’s future.

The comic’s in an interesting position at the moment. In fact, it’s been in an interesting position for quite some time. My first subscription started shortly after I started buying the comic regularly with Prog 2006. It had only one major low in that whole time in my opinion, which was the weeks in which Stalag 666 endlessly dragged on. A horribly generic story with some poor early art by Jon Davis-Hunt that did nothing to help, I really didn’t like it. Not enough to go insane and send its writer, Tony Lee, my shit smeared on an angry letter, but I consider it my major low point with the comic.

Then my subscription ended several weeks into the year 2009 and I didn’t bother to re-new it or buy the comic from a nearby WHSmith again. Those first however-many weeks of 2009’s Prog’s didn’t impress me. As I recall, the series’ running at this time besides Dredd were Strontium Dogs, the second story arc of Greysuit, Marauder and something else. Whatever that last one was, Strontium Dogs was the only thing keeping me happy week to week (even the Dredd tale by Wagner wasn’t doing it for me), and seeing as this was all following closely after Stalag 666, I thought that the comic was maybe losing its steam, which is why I decided that I could always start again years later, which I have done. But as it turns out, the comic wasn’t losing its momentum at all.

Okay, so a second long Tony Lee scripted tale, Necrophim, actually started shortly after I left and seems to have been as well received as the first (so not very well at all), but allow me to list some of what I missed that was utterly incredible.

– If I had remained subscribed for another two fucking weeks I would have saw the start of a new Low Life story arc, possibly still the best in that series to date: Creation, the story in which Rob Williams decided to draw focus away from Aimee Nixon and to Dirty Frank instead, his iconic hairy, smelly and weird undercover Judge who refers to himself in third person in conversation with other characters. Also, D’Israeli became the new leading artist of the series after Simon Coleby and Henry Flint before him and he knocked it out the fucking park. You can probably see where this is going.

– Nikolai Dante picked off from where I left – at what was probably another amazing cliffhanger or plot twist by Robbie Morrison in other words – and continued to be incredible for the next couple of years, before ending as spectacularly as promised in 2012, or so glowing reviews suggest. Fuck.

– Savage returned and you can’t go wrong with that action-packed series. Neither can you with Zombo, an over-the-top, completely mental comedy by Al Ewing and Henry Flint that’s rapidly become a fan favourite and for good reason: it’s genuinely funny and has been raised the crazy stakes with each new story.

– Cradlegrave by John Smith and Edmund Bagwell, one of my personal favourite comics of all time (it really needs a review, come to think of it) and certainly one of the best stories published in 2000AD, not to mention proof that horror can actually work within the medium, started the week after these two and I fucking missed it. Goddamnit.

– Skip forward a few weeks and the latest series of Defoe started where Slaine: The Wanderer ended. Skip to the last stretch of the year and the latest series’ of Kingdom and Shakara came and went as all the while Dredd was continuously excellent and Wagner secretly built towards the Day of Chaos storyline and I missed it all damn me to hell.

Not a weak year at all, is it? And hopefully this little list highlights just how consistent 2000AD can carry itself week to week, which I personally believe it has been doing since at least I started collecting it, though was probably doing so years before I started, especially whenever Matt Smith took over as editor.

Now, where is all this going?

Well, in just these last few years, especially after the success of Dredd 3D, 2000AD’s made a number of small but interesting decisions. When I initially collected the comic, they changed the logo to what we see today with what’s technically two different logos at once, and then while I was not collecting it (it looks like this went on between 2011 and 2012) they changed it again briefly, and I have to say that I actually preferred this version of the main logo they’d been using, where the Prog number was clearly visible underneath in a small rectangle at the top of the front cover instead of down at the bottom now (on either the left or right hand side – so it’s not even consistent, much like the spines of their trade paperbacks, ho ho ho!). Whatever the case, they’re changing it again with Prog 1900.

Well, I say “they”, but it’s the work of Pye Parr, their graphic designer, who’s been fooling around with some of the graphic novel releases and has designed the upcoming and gorgeous looking Zenith collection, which I’ll be talking about again shortly. This new design, he said in a fairly recent podcast, is intended to emphasise the logo they’ve returned to after 2011’s small change – and to be fair, whether I liked the brief replacement or not, they have been using this one for years now – and to really sell this as their brand the way Marvel and DC’s are instantly recognisable, and to really stick to it this time, and put it everywhere: their graphic novels, merchandise, anything media-related – even the Megazine will apparently have it.

This is all in an effort to make the comic appeal to wider audiences, especially overseas in America where they’ve been releasing their Dredd 3D-set stories, as well as Brass Sun, and now Jaegir, all three of which have emphasised the logo very clearly, and with the issue number underneath. Only on Saturday will we be able to tell if this is what will happen to our beloved Progs, but I’d be delighted if it were the case, as I think these look smashing. It would mean this small top left corner of the Prog would block the art, where previously the purpose of the two logos was to let the art run wild, covering one logo but not the other (not always, mind you, much to some people’s dismay), but I wouldn’t mind at all, especially if it ends up serving a greater good. It was pointed out in the podcast I mentioned that, flicking through a collection of these comics, it’s hard to find the Prog you’re looking for since the number’s always moving, so I’d welcome a consistent look for that too.

Anyway, let’s stop talking about the logo and move on to these US-sized comics themselves, shall we? These have been done in the past several times, but I neither know how successful the Eagle books and other stuff were nor care – that was the past and this is now, and right now it’s 2000AD themselves doing the publishing of these three. And my honest opinion of the job they’ve done so far? Well, they’re excellent, the quality of these things being through the roof, and rightly so. What better way to sell these overseas than to use eye-catching, high quality covers and excellent paper stock, and to only interrupt the tale in each with a measly two adverts, letting the story and artwork inside do the talking? Nothing’s better. In fact, the only way these could be any more fantastic is if they followed in Image’s footsteps and included back papers for letters, articles or whatever else they could think of, which may not be a bad idea if they decide to release more stories like Jaegir, where some background on the universe could help new readers settle in.

So what about sales figures? How are these things doing? Well, truthfully, not much has been said about the latter two series’ at all, but the former has been doing well enough with Underbelly alone that that story’s entering a third printing this October, and they’re confident enough with its sequel, Uprise, which is currently running in the Megazine, that they’re releasing limited variant covers for its two issues – the first also released next month by the way – in further efforts to “test the waters”, I suppose (because these things do sell).

The somewhat negative aspect to all this is that the stories being published right now – and potentially others in the near future – are not the monthly comics of the US, but reprints collecting what are actually weekly instalments into one part. This is all fine and well for the Underbelly and Jaegir one-shots, which are very self-contained tales and paced perfectly for that number of pages, but it was never really the intention for Brass Sun to be collected in 32 page instalments, was it? It’s very much a weekly comic – just look back at the third series finished in Prog 1899 with its cliffhangers nearly every week (and while you’re at it, do the same for some of the other series’ that have been running recently too) – and much of what could next be reprinted will only be the same.

Of course, they’re not going to change the Prog to a larger monthly comic for the sake of this, so the next logical step is obviously to attract readers to the weekly comic itself, to bring them over to a style they’re unfamiliar with, perhaps done best by getting them invested in some of the series’ the comic’s ran in the past. But you can’t exactly force on it on them either by continuously releasing stories like Brass Sun not perfectly suited to monthly instalments, can you? No doubt there’s good stuff to be found that could work but then you’re also running risk of dropping new readers in the middle of nowhere like Jaegir. What might actually be an interesting experiment, come to think of it, would be to release 32 page collections of Future Shocks featuring either the writing or art of those people who went on to become hugely successful with American audiences after their work on the comic. Or you could try a different approach, and this is where IDW enters the room.

For those of you not in the know, IDW is a US publisher probably best known for their incredible Artist Editions, books which reprint entire stories with scanned pages of their original artwork in their full, glorious size, and when it comes to series’, Locke and Key and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seem to be their most popular titles. Although I’m not sure exactly when they started working in unison with 2000AD (I could in fact swear that I’ve read their main series before in digital format years and years ago, although I could just as easily be confusing the artist with a spin-off older than IDW’s that he or she maybe also worked on?), they have a stake in the comic of their own now.

Their main emphasis is on Dredd, releasing their own line of stories that put a new spin on the universe. Frankly speaking, this is what sounds like the worst of what they’re doing, by all accounts some pretty terrible stuff that isn’t doing a good job at selling the universe. However, they’ve also been releasing issues collecting the “classics”, with brand spanking new colouring. They have…pretty…terrible covers, but at least it’s pushing stories like The Apocalypse War out to new audiences, right?

But what really seem to be doing the best job at introducing new audiences to the world – and seemingly are the best that IDW are publishing, according to most fans – are Matt Smith’s scripted takes on the character, a Year One re-imagining of Dredd’s origins, but in keeping with the spirit of the character, and now a similar concept for Anderson in a new Psi-Division series. And then there’s Douglas Wolk’s Mega City Two, the only one I have read, but one that I can tell you is absolutely amazing and well worth checking it out.

What’s great is that it’s not just Dredd getting such nice treatment. Both Rogue Trooper and Sinister Dexter are getting good attention paid to them, the former similar classics reprinted in new colour, but both entirely new series’, which are apparently pretty good. But it’s the fact that both still even exist, aren’t cancelled, that gets my hopes up for other series’ to join them in the future because let’s face it: neither of those are the best we have to offer, are they? Whatever the case, it all helps get 2000AD out to the uninitiated at the end of the day, doesn’t it? Who can complain about that?

Christ, I’ve talked this long about IDW and haven’t even mentioned the bloody fantastic hardcover collections they’ve been releasing for Dredd. For one, the re-coloured Apocalypse War has a rather nice book, and Judge Death will seemingly follow (hopefully with a less horrific cover, mind you). But the real cool ones are the Complete collections focusing on three artists: Brian Bolland, Carlos Ezquerra and Cam Kennedy. Oh yes, these are nice, and the first two even have some lovely signed, limited editions in slipcases and everything. Cor!

Actually, I lied – I didn’t forget these at all. It’s just the perfect segue I needed to talk next about 2000AD’s own selection of hardcovers that they’ve been pushing out the door.

It’s kinda funny, but somewhere in this blog, very early on I think, I complained how 2000AD were strictly all about the trade paperbacks. Those are pretty nice with their sewn binding of course – I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning a potential future blog entry if they weren’t as comfortable to read as I say – but I felt that they were really missing some attractive shelf pieces, especially books with not-shit spines, and yet was completely unaware that they actually did already have a few, with more on the way.

I won’t list them all, but from the Volgan War’s 96 page hardcovers with their overblown Clint Langley artwork with additional pages and no gutter loss whatsoever, to art books like Slaine: The Book of Scars and The Art of Judge Dredd (and it looks like we’ll be getting a Judge Dredd Sketch Book soon too, compiling unseen artwork); from the Mek Files reigning superior over the Complete Case Files and similar books with proper reproduction of the Prog’s whilst actually managing to live up to the promise of being, you know, complete, to consistent spines (I had to mention them!); and from a few signed and limited edition books to the upcoming Zenith, Brass Sun and Daily Dredd collections to decorate your shelves with in similar oversized formats of the above, 2000AD have simply never published books this bloody good before.

And if you can’t tell, I really, really want more like them, especially as many of these put the inconsistently designed paperbacks to great shame.

And, well, I may have gotten my wish. We’ve very recently found out that Hachette Partworks, a company who has been releasing two large Marvel collections for the past couple of years in fairly high quality hardcovers (considering their price), are starting a new series for the world of Judge Dredd, and oh my god, it looks amazing. It’s all well and good to recommend new fans try reading the Complete Case Files Vol. 5 first and see how they like The Apocalypse War, or to instead try America, or Origins, or even the recent Day of Chaos – because the strip is surprisingly easy to jump into at any point – but you know what’s an even better than those options? To be introduced in style, in the form of sexy hardcovers, with back papers discussing the history of the comic and its creators, with recommended further reading to help ease you in elsewhere. That is better.

Not exactly sure when these are coming out, but after some brief debating, I subscribed for the free gifts myself. They’re being given a trial run of the first four books listed on their site and here’s really hoping they take off, because I imagine if they’re successful enough, they stand an even higher chance of reaching an American audience than all of the above I’ve mentioned, simply because of that Marvel series they run.

Does all of the above cover everything?

I think so. No, wait. While I was gone the comics also went digital – the good DRM-free kind no less – and e-novellas are being released with hopefully many more to come.

Okay, I think I’ve discussed everything I set out to now.

The purpose of all I’ve talked about so far – not mine, but 2000AD’s I mean – is to really sell all the amazing and wonderful series’ outside of Judge Dredd that they have, to really attract newcomers to the weird and brilliant stories we’re so fortunate to be used to but that they’re not, and I think this opens up all sorts of exciting possibilities for the future if they can truly draw in this bigger audience. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy about the state the comic’s in now, but I can’t imagine how many more talented creators would jump on board if they suddenly found out about the comic and what excellent stories and artwork these people could bring us. Nor can I imagine how much the production values of both the regular comic and the Megazine could increase by, not to mention the collected books themselves. Wishfully thinking now, if you’re jealous of Marvel and all their great films, just imagine what some of our favourite series’ could look like on the big screen.

At the end of the day, make no mistake: whatever happens – whether their attempts to reel in this different crowd are successful or not – it’s an exciting time to be a 2000AD fan and there’s simply no better time to jump on board if you’re not one already.

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Taking control of my life with a little help from Fight Club

Incredibly, here is another blog entry so soon after the last. I can almost not believe it myself either, no. So of course, the fact that I’m writing this so soon to my complete disbelief means there’s one small caveat: it’s one more entry in which I talk about multiple things at once, rather than picking a topic and making it the focus for the day, crossing out the other choices in the one or two entries after. The difference this time is that, though these thoughts seem unrelated, they all came to me from reading Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club these past few days, having finished the majority of that novel today in my back garden in the sun.

Let me now preface this post before you go any further, because as I sit here working out what to say next I think this could end up as a weird and definitely lengthier entry than usual. It’s all there in the title. This is a post in which I’ll be talking about Fight Club; how it related to me on a personal level; and how badly it has made me want to really push forward with what I want to do with my life. Tying into the way that I felt I understood the book on a personal level, maybe I’ll also briefly mention how it’s made me think, “Fuck it, independence it is!” when it comes to the Scottish referendum in only nine days time.

If none of that sounds interesting to you then you’re best leaving now.

For those of you who are interested and still here, a refresher on my depression, which I last discussed here, is probably necessary, so skim-read that before going any further with this.

The thing I find quite fascinating about that entry is that I skim over what I call “an atomic explosion of all the emotions I had been keeping buried”, even though it’s actually pretty important. Long story short: in my first University course, I made no friends whatsoever, knew in my heart that it wasn’t what I wanted to do, told my parents, and when they didn’t believe me, exploded into messy tears that had my father crying too in private. It was an ugly situation to say the least, and the first of several mental breakdowns, leading me to an even more interesting detail I picked up on as I re-read this.

Despite having a breakdown of even bigger scale since then, and fairly recently too, it doesn’t seem like I’ve discussed that on this blog at all, even though it’s even more important. Longer story short: after these many years of depression, I recently hit the bottom of the pit when my parents finally saw through the facade I’d been hiding behind, and came rising out of it in my worst breakdown to date, loud and violent and furious at them, the world and myself; but in doing so came to accept that, yeah, I had been fucking things up for years now, but to hell with that – that shit ends now – and so came to confess to my parents that what I really wanted to do with my future was simply write, which felt great to get off my chest and since then I’ve been mostly happy. 

Weird that I didn’t talk about this on the blog though, isn’t it? Especially since I mention writing, amongst similar career choices, as part of a list I showed to my parents in my last year of high school, a list they then rejected for the most part, which I attributed to being one of the biggest roots, the source of my depression. Where I could’ve been more specific is that the list as you see it is actually in order. So I mostly wanted to be a novelist, then a comics writer or artist, and then a teacher of either English, Art, History or primary school kids.

This is all very crucial in understanding who I am.

Stay with me.

Now. Why is this recent breakdown important?

Well, it resulted me in reminding my parents of a list I wrote in high school, eventually telling them that what I’ve wanted to do most of all in my life, for as long as I can remember, is write. My reasons for this I also skim over in that blog entry, strangely enough. Vaguely I mention a small classroom of six students, actually Advanced Higher English in my last year of high school which I insisted I sit against my previous teacher’s wishes and then passed with even higher flying colours than before. Vaguely I mention two notebooks I filled with writing as a child, actually my very first attempts at writing novels, aged somewhere between seven and ten. And vaguely I mention my lifelong interest in creativity, though only name the drama classes I attended and this blog, actually having been so obsessed with more creative pursuits that I used the anonymity of the internet since I got my first computer to upload anything and everything wherever I could, these accounts with writing and art sadly forgotten or lost for the most part, and I couldn’t even tell you what could be re-discovered in the loft.

Vaguely I make this whole angry case for myself but ironically don’t face the subject head on, continuing to do exactly what I criticised myself for doing my whole life when compared to my sister, doing exactly what landed me in the whole sorry mess in the first place – fuck all.

So why writing?

No more dodging the question. 

No more dancing around a real answer.

Bite the bullet.

Put your cards on the table.

Open the fucking door. Say, come on in.

Why writing?

Because I enjoy it. Because it gives me satisfaction. Because I like words. Because I enjoy making sentences of words. Because I enjoy stories. Because I have stories of my own I want to tell. Because telling these stories through writing is the only way I know how. Because I enjoy telling these stories. Because I love my imagination. Because it’s a vast and huge and bottomless ocean of possibilities and it’s mine and no one else’s. Because this is how I’ve always felt since I first wrote and drew anything and realised each and every one of us has the capacity to do something amazing that makes us happy with our lives.

Because this is how it is.

Because I don’t want to do your boring, mundane, life-sucking job each day, you fucking vampire – I want to do what makes me goddamn happy and writing is the one thing that never fails to make me happy.

Fuck your promises of meeting me at the top of the ladder. You’d only step on my fingers when I reach the final rung. Fuck your money. It’s dirty, unclean, stained with the sweat of other hands that brought it there and I don’t want it. Fuck your rules. They’re stupid and I won’t live by them. Fuck your key to eternal happiness in exchange for a handshake and signed agreement to do what I’m told. You’re too late – I know what makes me happy.

This is my goddamn life and I won’t let you fuck it up.

So step aside because you’re in the fucking way.

None of this is meant directly at you, reader. You could be anyone, which is amazing. Me, I’m twenty two years old, but you could be fifty. Sixty. Thirty three. The same age. A teenager. Ten. A girl. A boy. Gay, straight, bisexual or asexual. Maybe you don’t even know yet.

You could be black or white. Transgender. You could be a friend or someone I don’t know and you could be from anywhere in the world. Maybe you’re Asian or maybe you’re Russian. An American, Indian, Italian. Scottish like me, or maybe English, Welsh or Irish.

Maybe you’re married or a widow or alone. Maybe you’re in your first relationship. Maybe you’ve never been in a relationship. Maybe you have lots of friends or maybe you have none. I don’t know you, so I don’t mean you any offence. 

But maybe you are living in the disillusionment that you’re doing what makes you happy, yet know in your heart that that isn’t true at all. Maybe then I’m talking to you in a way and, depending on who you are, then maybe I do mean you offence, I just don’t know.

But the most incredible possibility of all is that you could be someone who knows exactly what I’m saying, who at the moment they found this blog entry thought that it was about goddamn time they made a difference with their life. Someone who is sick to death of others holding them back or blocking their way, maybe kept on a leash like me by parents who want to raise you in their perfect image.

And maybe now you’re saying, no.

No, I won’t let you do this to me.

No.

Step aside, get out my way.

This is my life and I’ve picked which road I want to take and I will not look back.

Not for your empty promises. Not for your money stained with dirt and the sweat of hands it was passed through. Not for your shitty rules. Not for a handshake and a lie we’ll convince ourselves is true as you hand me a rusted key.

None of that means anything to me, so I won’t take it. Starting today, I’m in charge, I’m my own boss and I know what I need and I’m going to do everything in my power to get it, and if you’re against me then you either need to get out of my way or join me.

Now stop.

To cut all this ritualistic chanting short, this is what Fight Club taught me, though I suppose “brought me to terms with” is the better expression.

When I first started reading the book, I told my Facebook pals how it reminded me a great deal of some of my favourite novels, namely Trainspotting, The Outsider, The Catcher in the Rye, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and more. It was therefore no surprise to me then, after finishing the book and heading to Chuck’s website, that amongst his recommended books was Trainspotting itself and a few others that hadn’t occurred to me but certainly are very similar, such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and The Great Gatsby.

The point is: all these books resonate with me in some way on a personal level. These are the kind I re-read many times. Hell, they’re the only kind I read at least a third or fourth time and they’re the best in the world, and now this joins their ranks.

It’s a quotable book, just as all of the above are. At the start the narrator tells us that our life is “ending one moment at a time”, that “you are not special” but “the same decaying organic matter as everything else”. Yet in the end, speaking to a doctor who he calls God, he says this: “We are not special. We are not crap or trash, either. We just are. We just are, and what happens just happens.” Although not perfectly optimistic, it’s a remarkable change in character. And lets not forget that even though the book is filled with much more cynical lines, it’s also filled with many truths too.

Take for instance his sudden idea that “maybe self-improvement isn’t the answer, maybe self-destruction is the answer” to his unchanging life. Read some of the first paragraphs of this entry and you’ll realise that I had a self-destruction of my own – a massive mental breakdown at the end of which I revealed all. Stepped behind the curtain reluctantly and angrily in the mask of someone else; came out from behind it naked and as a more honest and happier individual, my true self.

Yet like I said, I’m not perfectly happy, not yet, just as the narrator at the end of this novel doesn’t get a happily ever after either. Consumerism is a big theme of the novel and it again it’s something that struck close to home. In the past I’ve chatted to myself about buyer’s remorse on this blog, having indeed done so fairly optimistically in a post more recent than that of my depression talk, though I realise now that that was actually complete naivety on my part. If it hasn’t been obvious since that entry’s publication then let me make it clear: the amount of books I’ve purchased since then has increased tenfold. And only on Tuesday night did I make the most ridiculously huge single purchase of them all, and in finishing Fight Club the next day did I stare in horror at my bank account and realise I didn’t need any of this.

Another quote: “The things you used to own, now they own you.”

But what can you do about it? Me, I’ve shit to sell. A lot and lot of shit to sell. Shit I don’t want, shit I don’t need. It seems insanely well-timed that sometime in the near future even the house I live in will be sold and my family and I will be moving to another.

That’s the other thing you can do about it – start again. I really do quite like the idea of self-destructing and resurrecting from the ashes a new person, a more positive person, a better person. And so starting now I tend to really seize this forward thinking attitude. The total annihilation has happened, the depression’s in the past, and now I am going to do everything I fucking can towards the future I want.

Start by getting rid of the shit I don’t need and replacing them with the things I do.

Make sure I write every single day, more than now, more than ever.

Start that novel I know I want to write, see it through to a finished first draft.

Re-write those short stories I know are good and send them somewhere.

Write that Future Shock I know I can muster up and send it to 2000AD’s offices.

Sure, get rejected – but never give up.

Never stop.

You know, there’s a moment in the video game Portal 2 where the player hears the founder of Aperture Sciences, Cave Johnson, voiced by the wonderful J.K. Simmons, hilariously taking the popular phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, and turning it on its head. It’s a side-splittingly funny moment as he eventually threatens to make a combustible lemon, but he also has a point too. Furiously, he yells, “When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade – make life take the lemons back! Get mad! […] Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons!”, and though brilliantly funny, it actually makes sense too, doesn’t it?

But as tempting as it is to leave you there, with a good quote from something completely unrelated to the rest of this entry, demanding you take charge of your own life like I will of mine, I will instead end this post with a final quote from Chuck Palahniuk, probably my favourite in all of Fight Club and one which best sums up my past in relation to where I stand now. And make no mistake – a stand is what this is and I for one don’t intend to fall to my knees any time soon, and neither should you.

Take control and don’t stop until you’re bathed in that light that once seemed so far away.

“For years now, I’ve wanted to fall asleep. The sort of slipping off, the giving up, the falling part of sleep. Now sleeping is the last thing I want to do.”

 

– Jordan

Onwards?

So, here’s the thing. As I’ve pointed out, Final Crisis isn’t really a Batman story and I’ve indeed just finished reading the first two issues to see this for myself. The guy has a fair deal of presence at first, investigating the murder of a god and all, but one of the Alpha Lanterns attacks him, being under the control of Darkseid, and he’s captured, apparently not reappearing until the last couple of issues, having escaped from captivity “off screen”. However, back in our Batman R.I.P. trade paperback, there’s actually two stories that I’ve neglected to mention until now, jointly called Last Rites, and it’s about what happens to Batman during his time as a prisoner in this story.

What I’m going to be doing then, is review those two stories in the one post, and then Final Crisis as a whole after I’ve read it a few times. There isn’t much of a point reviewing that series issue by issue in my opinion and it could probably be skipped if I bothered to search for spoilers. But we’ll read it and I’ll give it the best review I can. That, however, is going to be tricky. When I read the first issue I was literally doing my “WTF face” practically the whole time. Had no idea why were following cave men at the start, who the god that’s killed was, who exactly the Lanterns are, who these Monitors were, et cetera. Thankfully, though, I’ve found these annotations by Douglas Wolk, who has a rather great blog dedicated to Judge Dredd too if you want to check out, and these ones by one Gary Greenwood that Wolk left a link to. Very, very handy indeed and it actually gives me a great deal more perspective on how well this series is written.

For example, as I sat down to read the first issue in my car whilst waiting for my sister, I powered through it and left with some notion of who was who, little realising that the cave man in the very first page, for example, is actually an established character and not some random dude that one of the gods gives fire to. So that’s cool, and I got a lot more explanations about who other characters were too, even actual references from Morrison to other stories, such as the six missing kids that the detective’s looking for not only referring to his own case, but something that was happening in another series called Teen Titans. Neat-o.

So there you go. With these annotations in hand, hopefully my review will be from someone who understands just what the fuck happens. First, though, keep an eye out for Last Rites and remember that, after Final Crisis, we’ll be reading Time and Batman in which there’s a story bridging the gap between R.I.P. and that particular epic. Until then.

“But that’s the thing about Batman” – Looking To The Future of Grant Morrison’s Batman Run

My last post didn’t end with any afterword about the final chapter of Batman R.I.P. It was, as I intended, a simple description of its shocking ending, but with none of my thoughts on it. A conclusion like that speaks for itself in my book. You don’t need me to tell you why it’s as powerful as it is. What you perhaps can’t fully tell from an analysis of Morrison’s run until now is exactly what my thoughts are overall in light of R.I.P.’s longer story arc.

Before I bought any of these books, I did the usual thing I do when I buy anything I’m unfamiliar with: I looked up a lot of reviews to gather thoughts on this book and that, all to to decide whether or not they were something I’d enjoy. Someone more sensible would probably just have bought Batman and Son first, read it, and decided whether or not to continue reading the series from there. Not me – I bought them all, pretty much one after the other; and that was last year, I having only started reading these back in January. But it’s paid off, as I suspected it might, and I’m quite certain it’s not buyer’s Stockholm Syndrome speaking. The interesting thing is that I already own quite a lot of Batman graphic novels, most of which were my dad’s until I read and reviewed a bunch before starting this run of Mr. Morrison’s. Although those have also been great, it’s hard to say that one’s better than the other and whatnot, as all have different qualities to them that make them special. So I’m not going to say that these first three books in Morrison’s Batman run are the best I’ve ever read. But I am going to say that, if he keeps this level of quality up, then the whole run will be, as far as I’m concerned, the ultimate Batman story.

What fascinates me about saying that is that so many people hate this run and, in particular, the last book. People fucking hate the shit out of Batman R.I.P. and I cannot for the life of me understand why. Perhaps it’s just me – perhaps I just came across a lot of reviews written by some really dumb people – but I see a lot of the same complaints in the negative reviews for that book and, by the looks of things, the series all together. “It’s too difficult to understand”; “It doesn’t make any sense”; “Why is Morrison bringing back these Silver Age characters?”; “Batman looks stupid as the Batman of Zur En Arrh”; “Where’s Batman’s other usual villains?”; et cetera. Now, to be fair, I read The Black Casebook before actually starting this series, so I do have a bit of an advantage when it comes to the return of all the bizarre characters. But, you know, if I had done what I imagine a lot of people were doing at the time of this run, using Google to find out who the hell this Club of Heroes were for example, I think I’d still love it.

It was not silly of Morrison to bring these characters back – they are not, as I see said in so many negative reviews, “better left forgotten”. In fact, I’d call it very innovative to go back to a lot of these old stories and bring them into continuity. No one ever thinks to ask what kind of life Batman led between, say, Year One and Batman: Hush that I read just before the start of this run. Which is interesting because there are some accepted “facts” of the Batman universe – that a bat really did crash through his window, inspiring Bruce to become Batman; that he did have a protege in the form of a young Dick Grayson before that boy grew out of playing as Robin; that the boy who replaced him, Jason Todd, was brutally murdered by the Joker; etc. But that Silver Age? Forget it! The funny is, it’s not as if Morrison brought back the cheesy, comics-are-for-boys-only style of writing prevalent in those old stories with him – he’s still very much the man in charge – and he doesn’t even bring them back as concrete fact, at least as we saw them back then. Going from R.I.P.’s ending, for example, it turns out that the phrase, Zur en Arrh, used earlier by Doctor Hurt as a trigger phrase to “deactivate him”, was a repressed memory of Bruce’s father telling him that someone like Zorro would be thrown in Arkham Asylum that he re-discovered in his time during the Thogal ritual, after which he decided to create the Batman of Zur en Arrh as a “back up human operating system” in the event that someone like Hurt really did attack his mind. What a coincidence that the crazy colours this Batman wears are inspired by Robin, the young boy who always keeps him grounded. It’s not only amazing, but really quite beautiful and, perhaps most importantly, honest in intent.

Which is why I love this run so much, so far. As far as I can tell from the level of effort but into the writing from him so far, this wasn’t him thinking to himself, “Let’s shake up Batman’s world with all this old shite, um, just because!” In his introduction to The Black Casebook I thought it was pretty clear that he was a big Batman fan, and had been for a long time. You’d think that’s just plain obvious – you can’t be a good writer of a character like Batman, not owned by one author, if you’re not a fan yourself – but some of the negative criticism I’ve read might lead you to believe otherwise. Seriously, this run seems to be the bane of some people’s existence, apparently the worst Batman they’ve ever read. In fact, I’ve seen some comments from people wondering things like, “Who does Grant Morrison believe he was writing this run for?”, followed by a rant about how it clearly wasn’t for Batman fans. Which is perhaps the most nonsensical thing of all to me because, when I’m sitting with these books in my hand, all I see is the love for Batman that this man has and, indeed, future story arcs like The Return of Bruce Wayne and Batman Incorporated only go to prove this, the former appearing to take place across different time periods where there’s a Batman (I’m guessing Bruce somehow), and the latter seemingly making the very idea of Batman a global-wide thing to be shared. It’s the most Batman Batman story I think I’ve ever read and I’ve only finished the third book!

But that, sadly, is the thing about Batman. Some people hate Jeph Loeb’s more human portrayal of Batman, and others love Frank Miller’s frightening old man, and vice versa. What I bet will be some meta textual irony in Batman Incorporated, when I presume we see the initial intent of the Club of Heroes taken to new heights, is the simple fact that Batman means different things to different people. Yet not only is Morrison clearly interested in taking the character to fascinating places, but he shares this very same opinion, which is why, for example, that we’ve already seen the Damian of the future, actually very similar to Frank Miller’s character; and it wouldn’t surprise me if young Dick Grayson finds being Batman a lot more difficult and stressful than Bruce, almost like Jeph Loeb’s character. Although I’ve read my share of interviews with Morrison, some about this very run, and others about comics in general, it appears to me in them all, even one I read where he ranted at length about something Alan Moore said about him, that the guy just fucking loves comics.

This is why the run is just so damn good to me – it’s honest, and honest art is the best art. It does slightly bother me then that I’ve read reviews speaking of what’s to come, suggesting that some of the new villains which will be introduced in Batman and Robin should have been replaced by the likes of Two Face, seemingly for the sake of sticking to tradition. When I read a book, play a game, whatever, the thought never crosses my mind that the writer or developer should have replaced this with that unless they’ve done something meaningless. Although it’s clearly too soon to say because I’ve yet to read Batman and Robin, I do highly doubt that any new villains have no point to them. Take the Black Glove. They’re no one – just a bunch of rich people, yet the very point being made, much like what Bat-Mite says about Bruce as the Batman of Zur En Arrh, is that it’s how Bruce could have ended up had he not been raised so well and had, sad as it may sound, his parents not have died. So, too soon to say or not, I’m going to place a bet that any new villains are going to be amazing – nay, the rest of the run shall be.

But what really kills all the criticism for me is the notion that what Morrison’s doing is all very pretentious. Here’s a fact about me: I fucking hate that goddamn word being thrown around like it is. Since writing dissertations and whatnot in high school, I’ve always taken a certain pride in being creative enough myself to see what this writer, games designer, artist or film maker is doing, and I enjoy talking about that kind of stuff because I find it incredibly imaginative. So when I see someone call something that really is quite bloody good – you know, if you can put your knee jerk anger aside for a moment and really look at it – pretentious, I swear, if I thought so highly of myself, I would feel like they were purposefully rattling my cage. The reason this run hasn’t been pretentious of Morrison thus far, and probably never will be, is because the man can do things like end a book with a massive revelation like that of Zur en Arrh actually being the repressed words of Bruce’s father on the night he was killed, but also have the same character say hilarious things like, “I’m much cooler than [James Bond]”, or have him chuckle at his own situation like he does in the opening of R.I.P.’s final chapter.

What Morrison is doing with this run is not only taking an honest to god shot at creating the best Batman story that he possibly can, but having fun while he’s doing it, and that I can get behind and really admire. It is – yes, I’m saying it again – purely honest. The man is reaching for the stars in terms of scope but, contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean he thinks himself superior to anyone – there’s nothing wrong with being ambitious so long as you remain in control, and I for one have faith in these books. We’re about to read a crossover event that I may not even understand, being as unfamiliar with many of DC’s characters as I am, and when we’re back on to track, we’ll actually be following Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne for three whole books before we even return to Bruce, yet I am really looking forward to it all. Beyond that, it looks like there’s a time travelling Bruce and then the guy will go and make Batman an actual corporation, and I’m betting that all of it will be very fun indeed.

Which should perhaps be my final point. Unlike what seems like quite a lot of people, I don’t believe video games have to be fun experiences because they’re games just as I don’t believe that they have to be this level of complex or simple, have this kind of art style, and so on, and that goes for any medium of art. But the truth is, a lot of things are really funny when you think about them more widely, ridiculous even, and I feel like this can quite strongly apply to comic book characters such as Batman. But you know what? It’s not any worse for the wear when viewed in that light. God knows I fucking love Frank Miller’s darker interpretation of Batman as much as I love Jeph Loeb’s softie-at-heart. So when Morrison brought back Bat-Mite and then Tlano, I didn’t feel insulted because he’d put these two characters that people have always found utterly silly into canon – I actually felt kind of proud in a way.

These particular books are in a drawer – alas, I have such little room for all my books – and sharing that drawer is Alan Moore’s The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Scott Snyder’s Swamp Thing and Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man. On my actual shelf of sorts (okay, it’s a cupboard), the books that I can see sitting from where I type this include the likes of Hellboy, Season 8 of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the Sandman series, the Scott Pilgrim series and a bunch of other stuff, including the porn book, Lost Girls. The point being that I love comics of all sorts, and the same goes for the books, films, TV shows, music and games I enjoy. When you’re doing something for whatever medium of art, I don’t think there’s anything more fun than truly embracing that art medium’s qualities. Likewise, I don’t think there’s anything more enjoyable than being on the receiving end of that work of art, particularly when it’s so complex and interesting to talk about. It’s sort of why I’m bothering to sit here and write all this, even though no one may actually read it. But Grant Morrison has me in that sort of mood anyway because the guy has gone out on a limb and embraced the forgotten past of Batman because he fucking loves comics, and it just so happens that I do too.

Going Forward: Some Final Thoughts on “Batman and Son”

A short post to finish things off seemed quite suitable before we move on to The Black Glove.

It’s been an interesting run so far but, fuck, do I have a lot of questions about where this is all going. It’s a testament to Morrison’s writing that I’m not really sure what he’ll do next. Seriously, all I expect is that the Satan worshipping Batman, his third ghost, will be rearing his head at some point soon, but I don’t know when. In fact, in The Black Glove I already know, from Morrison’s introduction in The Black Casebook, that one of the stories collected there is called The Island of Mr. Mayhew, that man being from an old story involving the Club of Heroes, which is a pretty unexpected direction to take Batman after Batman and Son‘s story arcs. Of course, my theory is that this Doctor Hurt, who Morrison again mentioned in his introduction to The Black Casebook’s collection of stories, is behind a lot of this, but it isn’t exactly easy at this point to understand exatly how far his involvement goes, and what exactly he’s done or is going to do to Bruce. Likewise, Talia’s a bit of a conundrum. Although she explained her plan in Absent Fathers, it’s hard to believe that that’s all she has up her sleeve. There’s surely something else going on there. How Damian will come to be the new Robin is another mystery I don’t care to think about this point after he’s beaten up Alfred and nearly killed Tim Drake. And, hell, Alfred himself seems shady in my book, though I hope this isn’t the case. He’s just Alfred, you know? Ah, but too many questions that we’ll simply have to wait to find out the answers to.

Let’s quickly talk about something else then. With the exception of The Clown at Midnight, which had some strange digital art going on, all the artwork was courtesy of Andy Kubert in Batman and Son. To be honest, skimming through the book, I’m not completely impressed by his work here, although I do wonder if I’d feel differently had he the same inker on hand as he did in Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? It’s good, excellent in fact during the art exhibition story and Bethlehem, but not amazing. However, first on art duties in The Black Glove is J.H. Williams III. This excites me. In some post somewhere on this blog I mentioned buying Alan Moore’s Promethea series solely for his art and, believe me, it’s worth it. The same could be said of Batwoman: Elegy, which also looks amazing and I probably wouldn’t have been as interested in if he wasn’t on art duties. Hell, I’ve even recently bought the first issue and special edition of Sandman: Overture, despite not having even read Neil Gaiman’s original series (which I’ve also bought, god help me), simply because he’s the artist. That comic has a fold out page and everything, such is its glory. So, yes, this chap’s getting a separate post of his own in which I praise his artwork to no end if you haven’t guessed.

The other artist joining him in The Black Glove and who would appear to be the only artist on R.I.P. is Tony S. Daniel. At a glance this guy’s artwork doesn’t seem too bad at all – it just sucks for him that he’s sharing a book with Williams, who I’m afraid outshines him. But after R.I.P. we just get more and more artists, and it’s actually something that worries me about this run. Although I see a few familiar faces, such as Frank Quietly (who I bought my first Absolute-sized book, All Star Superman, for just to see his artwork in greater detail) and Frazer Irving, an artist from 2000AD, there’s other folk that look like they’ll be kind of generic unfortunately, so my concern is that I’m going to be bashing a lot of this stuff further on in this run. Hopefully none of it will be that bad though.

Naturally, and as I plan to avoid, Morrison could become a bore if he begins to retread over the same ground in later volumes of this run. In the future I’ll make a post detailing some likely candidates that we can use as a break from his run, though these may not necessarily be other comics. For some reason all I’ve used this blog for so far is reviews of my comics when I’ve been meaning to fill it with general thoughts on other things I’m quite passionate about, such as novels, video games and TV shows. Can’t say I’ve been reading any novels lately or playing any video games, but I have been watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer on Netflix for the first time in quite a long while, so I may make a post or two about how amazing that show is at some point in the future. Incidentally, I’ve even bought Season 8 of that series. Yes, the television show did end on Season 7 but the almighty Joss Whedon has actually, as I’ve only recently found out, made a Season 8 and 9 in the form of…comics! Naturally I bought the library editions, the same kind of oversized ones as Hellboy, as soon as I heard this, though they’re currently only available for Season 8. Either way, they’re nice new books to add to my collection and I was actually thinking of posting reviews, with plenty of images, of some of my favourite books in my collection to pass some time between all this Grant Morrison stuff, particularly since I got my hands on the slipcase edition of Alan Moore’s Lost Girls which is quite incredible itself.

So expect any of that, or possibly even none of it. We’ll just have to wait and see where I go with all this. Anyway, coming up soon is my chapter by chapter review of The Black Glove, with a separate one at some point gushing over my love for J.H. Williams III. Until then.

Some Final Notes Before We Begin…

Pretend that this my first prelude, um…part two. There were just some things I forgot to talk about in regards to how I’m going to be approaching this long series but, not to worry, I’ll be keeping this short.

1) There will be spoilers everywhere. That should probably be clear as a thing I do on this blog but it goes for this especially, being such a long run of what’s essentially the story that just happens to develop over the years it took to write.

2) There probably won’t be many, if any, traditional reviews where I talk about the writer, the art, perhaps the colourist, etc. First of all, whilst Morrison is the only writer, he gets put with a lot of different artists and, though I’ll talk about them where I feel like it, I may do so in separate posts to those in which I discuss the story. The reason being that there is a ridiculous number of issues that make up this run. For example, Batman and Son is our first book, and it feature issues 655-658, a prose story, then issues 663-666, and, the thing is, some of these chapters, as they’re called inside, don’t always connect chronologically – it doesn’t all form the one tale like any of Jeph Loeb’s books that we’ve read. Rather than review all of Batman and Son in the one post, then, what I’ll probably do is group together the stories I can review at once – though talk about the issues individually like I did in my read of The Black Casebook, where I used bold lettering at the start of each story – and make that the first part of the book’s review, followed by however many more I deem necessary. This goes for every book in the entire run. It’ll be easier to read and, without condensing each book into a single post, I think I’ll have more to talk about, which should be more interesting to read.

3) With the stories in older comics, such as those collected in The Black Casebook, being brought into continuity, I’ll probably spend a great deal of time pointing these out. Depending on how much of this happens at once, again, I may need to make posts between reviews discussing these, perhaps as annotations if possible.

4) Due to the back and forth nature of chronology, according to reviews I’ve read, we will probably be going back to story’s that I perhaps didn’t understand at one point, but can make sense of later. Could be confusing, so I’ll try to think of a good title to make these stand out more clearly.

And I think that’s it. As I’ve said, there’ll probably be some breaks from the run here and there, lest we lose the will to live, but, with all that needed said said, we can finally begin. See you next time for the first part of my Batman and Son review and, yes, I thought of a running title for this long series.

A Prelude To Grant Morrison’s Batman Run

It’s close, oh so close now. Perhaps more than any of the other books and series’ that I intend to read, I’ve been really looking forward to this one. Not necessarily because I love Grant Morrison as a writer, though he is the author of one of my favourite stories, Arkham Asylum, but for the very reasons that people seem to hate his run instead – the difficult to follow chronology, surreal sequences, throw backs to ye olden days, and so on sound really amazing to me. But I have to admit: I was very confused just trying to buy the books for his run. It seemed fairly straightforward at first but, when I figured that a Google search of the recommended reading order would help, I was suddenly faced with people suggesting all manner of things. Though this link has some small spoilers, though none I hadn’t already heard, it’s more or less the one I used to work out how I’d be going about this. Unlike that helpful chap’s recommendation, however, I’m not going to be reading until a certain point in one trade paperback, then skipping ahead to the next to read some chapters from it which take place at the same time as the one before, and so on. Depending on how confused I get, yes, I probably will reread certain parts to make sense of things, and I’ll talk about these in posts of their own; but I’m not going to be jumping from one book to another just to read the chapters in the way they were released.

Before I present my intended order, I should probably be a bit more specific about what Grant Morrison’s run on the character is like. One of the most fascinating things about his run is that he takes stories from Batman’s early days, the ones many people believe would be better left forgotten (like the Adam West television show everyone seems to hate, even though it’s comedy gold), and brings them into continuity as having actually happened, even if they sound ridiculous. In a story called Batman R.I.P. it’s revealed that our caped hero has a black casebook filled with these old stories in which Batman went to other planets, fought vampires, etc. – basically, it’s Batman’s version of The X Files. But, according to Morrison, it all happened. Fuck knows how he has any of it make sense, but I am very intrigued to find out. There is, of course, one problem, and I’m sure a lot of the anger directed at Morrison for this run results from this: these stories are really old. As in 1950’s old, perhaps even earlier. Not a lot of people would have understood, let alone even realised, what these throwbacks were about. And I wouldn’t either if it weren’t for DC putting together a book called The Black Casebook which, as you’ll expect, collects a good number of these old stories that inspired Morrison’s run. So, naturally, this will be what I’m reading first before we dive into the real start of this run.

However, that’s not the only significant throwback he draws into continuity. At the end of one of my recent blog posts, I referenced a story called Son of the Demon and implied its importance in Morrison’s run. My dad actually confirmed to me earlier today that he bought the book it’s collected in, The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, for it alone, and not the 1930’s to ’60’s stories also present. In fact, it’s the only one he could remember having read out of this collection. The same can be said of me too. Just as I said when I first mentioned this collection, younger I hated these silly tales. Sadly, as I read a few earlier today, I found myself struggling to get through them once more, and will probably give up on them. The Batman then was aimed at young boys, you see, which means there’s a damsel in distress and Batman being a bit too badass, going as far as to kill vampires and even humans, which is practically unheard of today. The writing’s typically cheesy too.

He quoth, from a story about the Joker and Penguin teaming up: “The Joker! That leering monster of menace! What strange twist of fate has placed him in the same cell as the Penguin? What impish irony has brought these twins in transgression face to face? Can prison walls contain this combination of craft and cunning?”

Uh…right. Don’t ever expect a review on The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told – I just can’t share the enthusiasm Dick Giordano, an artist of the strip during its early days and eventual editor at DC, displays in his excellent introduction, and I probably never will. Part of me knows that I probably won’t enjoy The Black Casebook’s offering of weird tales either (incidentally, in some of these early strips, Batman’s called “weird” a lot, which is at least quite amusing), but I do trust in Morrison doing something clever with them, and reading them is probably going to help me understand all the bizarre stuff I have waiting in store.

Anyway, somehow I got to talking about ye olde Batman again, so let me step back a few paces to Son of the Demon instead. This I will be reading and reviewing, second on my list after The Black Casebook. The important thing that happens in this story – and sorry, but it must be spoiled – is this: Bruce and Talia do the naughty naughty together and, though she hides it from him, Bruce Wayne is actually a father at the end. In what way this relates to Morrison’s run should be obvious. The child, now grown up, comes back to him at some point in Batman and Son, where Morrison’s own run really begins. All I know is that his name’s Damian but, from that name alone, as well as the fact that he’s probably grown up with Talia and not just conveniently found out that millionaire Bruce Wayne, also Batman, is his father, I’m going to go ahead and say he’s probably an evil little bastard sent by Talia to kill him or something. Which should prove really interesting, particularly when later trade paperbacks of this run show that he becomes the new Robin. How no one has brought this kid back in a good or bad way before Morrison is baffling to me though. When I read Son of the Demon, which isn’t that amazing by the way, I couldn’t help but wonder what became of the child, so I find it pretty cool that Morrison’s put the kid into the Bat-Family.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’ve had some parts of this run spoiled for me, and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s practically unavoidable when you see the names of some of the trade paperbacks and their descriptions, but I’ve had more specific things spoiled, such as that someone called Darkseid (who I think I remember being mentioned in Alan Moore’s Superman stories that I kicked this blog off with) kills Batman, only he, uh, doesn’t actually. However, although I know this, the good news is that I know not how or why, and that goes for a lot of things I know about only vaguely. Above all, I’m really looking forward to seeing how Morrison makes some of the strange stories of The Black Casebook a reality, as I’ve thankfully not had that spoiled at all. There are theories I have in mind about some of what will happen later during this run too. The covers of the trade paperbacks give some ideas away, as do some of their titles, sadly, but I won’t talk about them for fear that I end up spoiling anything.

So, in the coming days, you’ll see reviews of The Black Casebook and Son of the Demon, and perhaps in one or two separate posts some additional thoughts on how I think the former book’s old tales will fit in, presuming Morrison doesn’t spoil anything about his run in that book’s introduction, written by him. Starting with this post, I’m also creating a new category for this run, to make for easier reading in the future. Maybe I’ll also think of some silly title for the entire duration of the reviews and doubtless other posts discussing it. Like I’ve said as we’ve gotten closer and closer to starting this epic run, I’ll also probably break up any posts about the run with reviews of other books, perhaps finally of some video games too if I have the time to finish any I’m playing. This is just so I don’t get sick of reading Morrison’s run too quickly.

That about wraps up all I have to say then. Like I said, consult the recommended reading order I left a link to at the start, as my reasons for this order are all there. Here’s how I’m doing this:

The Black Casebook

Son of the Demon

Batman and Son

The Black Glove – Featuring the art of J.H. Williams!

Batman R.I.P. – Apparently this is where Morrison’s mind fuckery begins.

Final Crisis – This is one of several DC crossovers and will probably be the most difficult for me to follow, being unaware of many characters as I am. It’s also the story where Batman apparently dies, but doesn’t die.

Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn – Featuring Damian as the new Robin, I assume with Dick Grayson taking up the mantle of Batman in Bruce’s absence.

Batman and Robin: Batman V.S. Robin – Quite the exciting name, eh?

Batman and Robin: Batman and Robin Must Die! – Possibly even more exciting?

Batman: Time And The Batman – This is apparently why jumping between books wouldn’t be a bad idea, as the events here apparently will have taken place ages ago by now.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne – And this too is the same, with many of the events here apparently going alongside Batman and Robin.

Batman Incorporated – Another intriguing title name, though I think fairly obvious when you see the cover.

Batman Incorporated Volume 1: Demon Star – The reason this is the “first” volume would appear to be because it’s part of the New 52 relaunch.

Batman Incorporated Volume 2: Gotham’s Most Wanted – The hopefully amazing end.

Until next time.