Batman: The Widening Gyre 1 (October 2009)

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Leave it to Kevin Smith to try to make Batman sound hip. He also sounds really self-aware, which doesn’t really work for the character. I was half expecting Smith to make a gay joke, but then remembered it’s the one thing DC editorial won’t allow.

This issue has Batman teaming up with Robin in flashback, then Nightwing in present, then heading off on his own to Arkham. All while Smith overdoes the narration. His Batman is desperate to stay relevant–making notes to check pop culture references and so on–while he thinks about retiring the Robin mantle.

If it weren’t for Walt Flanagan’s art, if DC had paired Smith with an established comic artist, Widening Gyre might not read like a vanity project. But with Flanagan–who’s competent but clearly not professional–Smith’s script feels like a long joke at the reader’s expense.

He does pace it okay though.

CREDITS

Turning and Turning; writer, Kevin Smith; penciller, Walt Flanagan; inker, Art Thibert; colorist, Art Lyon; letterer, Jared K. Fletcher; editors, Janelle Siegel, Mike Marts and Dan Didio; publisher, DC Comics.

Battlefields 5 (March 2013)

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Wow.

Okay, starting at the beginning. Ennis jumps ahead five or six years, then fills the reader in on Anna and Mouse’s time since the war. Specially how Anna got out of her cliffhanger.

Now they’re in a different war–training North Korean pilots to fly against the Americans–and there’s not much appreciation for either woman.

When things start to go bad, Anna reacts poorly, making things much, much worse.

Ennis uses the issue not to do a standard war comic, but a specific one about the Soviet Union and how they treat their soldiers (and women). Then he puts in these little moments of humor, which give the comic lots of texture but also make the comic even more devastating.

Given how bad things are going, I almost don’t want to read the last issue.

Russ Braun does fantastic work. His facial expressions are great, especially for Anna.

CREDITS

The Fall and Rise of Anna Kharkova, Part Two; writer, Garth Ennis; penciller, Russ Braun; colorist, Tony AviƱa; letterer, Simon Bowland; editor, Joseph Rybandt; publisher, Dynamite Entertainment.

Swamp Thing 137 (November 1993)

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Collins reveals Arcane’s master plan. After a hundred plus issues, dying multiple times, going to Hell, escaping Hell, going back to Hell, old Anton has exactly the same plan he had when he first appeared.

But the lack of ambition from penciller Braun actually helps out here. One can’t confuse Swamp Thing with a good comic anymore, not with Arcane dragging hostage Abby out like the Bride of Frankenstein at the end, not with Collins turning the guy Abby went out with once into the love of her life.

Not with Braun giving Constantine some slicked back nineties hair.

The comic’s a joke. Laughing helps one get through it. Collins has seven or eight characters to manage in the issue and she does awful with them. There’s not a single honest conversation; though she does get in a pointless origin of a villain.

Pointless sums it up in general, actually.

CREDITS

Dead Relatives; writer, Nancy A. Collins; penciller, Russell Braun; inker, Kim DeMulder; colorist, Tatjana Wood; letterers, Tim Harkins and John Costanza; editor, Stuart Moore; publisher, Vertigo.

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