Saturday, July 31, 2010

Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman's anniversary issues

With the exception of anything written by Paul Dini and reading Final Crisis, I’m not a consistent Batman reader. As far as Superman and Wonder Woman, I only know what I’ve read in either Wizard or Previews. I decided to get the anniversary issues and the following issues to see if they were good stories and good jumping on points for me. Here’s what I found.

Batman #700 & #701

Batman #700 had one story, “Time and The Batman” by Grant Morrison, Tony Daniel, Frank Quitely, Scott Kolins, Andy Kubert, and David Finch. This offbeat story features the Maybe Machine, which is a device that allows someone to time travel. We get to see a cameo from the Terry McGuiness Batman as well as other alternate realities. It was fun seeing the Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne version of Batman & Robin having fun beating up bad guys.

I knew that ‘killing’ Bruce Wayne was temporary and that it was inevitable that he’d come back but, seeing the new Batman & Robin in action makes me wish that return was a few years away. It would be nice to see this new team really make a mark so that Bruce’s return is more of a transition for Dick (maybe not Damian because Tim will probably stay Red Robin for a while).

Batman #701 goes back to the RIP story arc where Bruce has just escaped from Doctor Hurt and gets called in by Superman to take a look at the spot where Orion was killed at the start of Final Crisis.

Batman #700 was kind of confusing. I wasn’t always sure of what was real and what was part of the time travel (or alternate reality). With the exception of a few moments, the rest was either confusing or boring.

Batman #701 should have been an opportunity to capitalize on the increased demand for Batman #700 by introducing a new story arc instead of closing out a story arc that gives us details on events that happened recently. With Bruce Wayne returning I think readers could use more Dick Grayson Batman stories. When Bruce returns, that’s when you drop the final RIP chapter. In any case, I won’t be getting Batman #702.

Superman #700 & #701

Superman #700 has 3 stories:

The Comeback by James Robinson & Bernard Chang

Parasite is chasing after Lois Lane when Superman saves her. Apparently he was gone for a long time and this is the first time they’re seeing each other. Nice interaction between the two of them after a long absence.

Geometry by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund

This is a tale from Superman’s past, back when Dick Grayson was still Robin. While Bruce Wayne is at a Wayne Industries function, Robin decides to take on gunrunners and gets an assist from Superman. Robin is disobeying Bruce’s order to stay in the mansion and Superman helps him slip back in. This story had me laughing at the end. It’s great to see Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund telling great stories with the character they contributed so much to.

Grounded by J. Michael Straczynski & Eddy Barrows

Superman returns to Metropolis where he’s inundated by politicians and reporters who question his allegiances. Unable to come up with anything he felt was sufficient to answer their questions, Superman decides to literally walk among the people he abandoned. It is Superman’s way of rededicating himself to Earth and reconnecting with its people again.

In Superman #701, “Grounded Part 1” by J. Michael Straczynski & Eddy Barrows continues where #700 left off. Superman continues walking around and connecting with everyday people. The most interesting part of the issue is when Superman talks a jumper out of committing suicide. Throughout the issue, when someone asks him a question, Superman answers each one thoughtfully. I don’t know if it’s my imagination but did Peter Parker make a cameo in this issue?

Every story in Superman #700 was worth getting the issue for. I like this ‘ground-zero’ approach to Superman and will add this to my pull list to see how it develops.

Wonder Woman #600 & #601

Wonder Woman #600 has five stories:

Valedictorian by Gail Simone & George Perez

When Ivo’s Cyber-Sirens attack The White House, Wonder Woman and a few dozen of DC’s female heroes show up to stop them. Their combined might makes short work of the villains which is good news because Diana rushes off to watch Vanessa graduate high school. It’s a good story that lets the readers see Vanessa again and reminds us of who she is to Diana. The Diana/Vanessa conversation is meat of this story but the opening action between the DC ladies and villains makes me wish George Perez was doing something monthly. It’s a good story and the only story worth buying the issue for.

Fuzzy Logic by Amanda Connor

After Power Girl and Batgirl help Wonder Woman take down Egg Fu, Power Girl needs Wonder Woman’s advice. Unfortunately Power Girl wants advice on her cat. Moving on…

Firepower by Louise Simonson & Eduardo Pansica

Nikos Aegeus vs Wonder Woman & Superman in a by-the-numbers team-up against a foe clearly out of his league.

The Sensational Wonder Woman by Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins

This is a sort of origin story with 2 unknown narrators talking about Wonder Woman before she goes through a doorway to “Let the odyssey begin.”

Odyssey Prologue: Culture Shock by J. Michael Straczynski & Don Kramer

Wonder Woman’s new costume (and it is cool) debuts as she takes on a few thugs who self-destruct. She goes to see the Oracle for information and she shows Wonder Woman what Paradise Island looks like. The Oracle is funny and I enjoyed their interaction. The only thing that bothered me (and this is nit picky) is when one of the robed people (I don’t know who they were – but she had to talk to them to get access to the Oracle) talked to her and Wonder Woman responded, “Don’t EVEN go there with me.” Wonder Woman is someone of few words unless she’s talking to a friend in warm, cultured language. Wonder Woman doesn’t use slang.

In Wonder Woman #601 (by J. Michael Straczynski & Don Kramer) “Past Imperfect, Present Tense,” we’re given an alternate version of what happened on Paradise Island. She has visions of herself in the old costume then we find out that she can’t fly anymore. What’s most disturbing is that she’s told she can’t fly YET, not that she can’t fly anymore. It looks like Straczynski is retconning the character as though she’s brand new. If so then she doesn’t know the other heroes of the DCU or Vanessa and it erases all past history which would be unfortunate.

I like the new costume but the new direction is annoying – I don’t need yet another alternate history for the character. Wonder Woman #600 was worth getting but I won’t be buying #602.

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