Personal Issues 2 – Atrocitus is Nobody’s Bitch
It’s that time of week again. Time for another Personal Issues. With Zero Month being over, I’m going to cover the back half of the releases and tell you my second round top three and bottom three. These are going to be in no particular order again, except the first three are going to be good and the last three are going to be bad.
That being said, this was a hard list to choose from. Only one or two of these issues actually made me go “Fuck yeah, that was awesome!” or “Fuck, that was shit.” Compared to the first two weeks, where I could easily point out which ones I really liked and really despised fairly quickly, this time I had to put some actual thought into these picks. So let’s start things off with:
I’ve really been enjoying this new run of Wonder Woman. Now that the gods aren’t just dudes, it makes things much more visually interesting and I liked some of the changes made to Wonder Woman herself. Her new origin story opens up quite a few possibilities and the fact that she has some weird god powers that need to be restrained with the bracelets is really cool. The Zero Issue is now slouch either.
Set during Diana’s teenager-hood on the island of Themyscira, it starts with Diana stealing an egg from a harpy’s nest. Apparently this is something that all young Amazons must do on their birthday. They must present a gift to Queen Hippolyta that is retardedly dangerous to get or the passing of the year won’t be acknowledged. A bit selfish of the Queen but whatever. As Diana completes this quest, a bearded man with a sweet helmet is watching, believing she is “the one.” The one what, we don’t know.
Back at the palace or wherever, Aleka challenges Diana to a sparring match with wooden swords. The two fight and Aleka actually tries to seriously injure Diana, hating her for the fact that she is made of clay. In Wonder Woman’s original origin story, Hippolyta formed Diana out of clay before Aphrodite brought her to life. At this point in the Wonder Woman continuity, everyone still believes that her is origin. But we, the readers, know that she is actually the daughter of Zeus, ruler of Mount Olympus and king of the gods. But Aleka doesn’t know that so she hates Diana. I guess clay murdered her family or something.
Diana runs off to sulk when she is approached by the bearded man who turns out to be Ares, the God of War. He offers to train her once a month on the full moon in the ways of war. Now this is where some people might have an issue. Wonder Woman comes from an all female society, and that’s always been something about the character. She is one of the fiercest warriors in the DC universe and she was trained to be that way completely by women. Having Ares, a male god, teach her to be a warrior better than what she would be with just Amazonian training says to us that she can only be the badass we know her to be with the help of a man. Plus the whole “now she has a daddy” thing. But I’m not really that bothered with it. Yes, she is being trained by a man, but he is a god. It doesn’t really look to me like the comic is saying that her female warrior training isn’t as good as a man’s training, it’s saying that the training she received from the Amazons made her a good enough warrior to be noticed by the gods. Probably being a god’s daughter didn’t hurt but that’s beside the point.
A year passes and it’s Diana’s birthday again. This time, Ares takes her to Crete where she is sent into the Labyrinth to kill the Minotaur. She finds it, takes it down, but doesn’t deliver the killing blow. She sees the helplessness in the Minotaur’s eyes and cannot bring herself to kill it. This pisses off Ares who slaps her and storms off. This is a moment I like. It shows Diana’s character. Yes, she is a warrior, but she is compassionate. Even with all her warrior and god training, she still has affection for a creature like the Minotaur, who mere seconds before was ready to run her through with his horns, will still be granted mercy by her. And the Minotaur knows this. We see that the Minotaur appreciates the gesture lets her live.
Fuck, that is a lot on the plot. I guess I liked it. But what I really liked was the framing for all of this. The entire comic plays like an old school comic. All of the text boxes speaking in bombastic dialogue. It’s all hyperbole and alliteration. It’s a gimmick, yes, but it’s a gimmick that plays really well. It’s an origin story done in the style of the older comics she originated from. Even the art pays a certain amount of tribute to the older style of comics. I may have imagined that last part up, but I do think the art goes well with the type of storytelling they went with. If this was done in the modern style of comics, this issue probably wouldn’t have made it on to this list.
Wonder Woman 0 is a great story for Diana. With its classic style of storytelling around a really good story, this is a great issue.
Hey, another Batman story. Yeah, the title says Teen Titans, but it’s a Batman story. Specifically the origin story of Tim Drake, the Red Robin and leader of the Titans. Stephen and I talked about this on the comics podcast that has been lost to the annals of I fucked up the recording, but he was not that much of a fan of it. He said that too many things were changed from Tim’s original story. I wasn’t really reading comics during Tim’s tenure as the Boy Wonder, but here are some things I do know. He was the first Robin to actually ask for the job. While Dick and Jason were given the job by Bruce, Tim tracked him down and applied. He figured out who Batman was and got the role.
Something very similar happens in this story. Tim starts as an average kid. Except for the fact that he is amazing at everything. He’s a talented hacker, a genius, a gymnast, and pretty much everything else you suck at. His parents, being ordinary people, are amazed by him and a little ashamed of themselves, especially his dad. This is one of the strong points of the comic for me. From what little I did read of Tim before the relaunch, I saw he had a good relationship with his father. But you’ve got to imagine that having a kid as amazing as Tim would be hard on some schmuck who didn’t really amount to anything. There is a fantastic scene where Tim’s father actually tells him that it’s okay for Tim to leave his family behind. His father knows how amazing Tim is and believes he will only hold Tim back. But we also get to see Tim’s reaction to all of this. He says that nothing he does will ever be as good as having his father around. That’s what I like about Tim in this comic. Even though he is amazing at everything, he never thinks of his parents as burdens or something holding him back. He loves unconditionally and would trade everything he had to stay with them. This is also what sets him apart from other Robins, on top of what I talked about above. Dick and Jason were both orphans who Bruce took in and became a father to them. Tim’s family is still alive, so he doesn’t need Bruce as a father. It’s an aspect of the character I really like.
Anyway, when Tim is not being amazing at school things, he’s being amazing at detective things. He noticed a change in Batman since Robin disappeared, having been killed by the Joker, and decided that he would take up the mantle. He manages to “figure out” Batman’s true identity, but not really, and goes to where he thinks Batman is. He is there, but because Batman lead him there. Batman tells him to fuck off and disappears. But Tim doesn’t fuck off, he keeps digging, trying to get Batman’s attention. He eventually settles on the brilliant idea of stealing from The Penguin. The Penguin’s goons show and try to kill Tim, but Batman is there. Everyone lives, but the parents are sent into the witness protection program while Tim is given to Batman. Because yeah. Tim gets to Batcave and gets the job. But he doesn’t become Robin, he becomes Red Robin. Again, I like this about Tim.
Batman is narrating the entire issue, and mentions that Tim and Jason are similar in a couple of ways. They both see the role of Robin as just that, a role. It’s a mask you put on, play the part for a while, then take off and go back to your life. They also don’t see what is happening to them as real. Batman says that Jason didn’t believe any of it was real until he died. Tim didn’t think it was real, either, until the Penguin’s cronies showed up and almost killed his parents. Right then it became real. Wanting to be at Batman’s side so bad almost cost him the family he loves, and that’s when something changed, I think. Tim still knew that Batman needed a Robin, but he didn’t want to be filling a role only to be replaced somewhere down the line. He wanted to be his own hero, his own role. So he became Red Robin.
One of the two main problems I have with the issue is that fact that Batman is narrating. It’s a bit weird. Where every other time we are seeing things from the point of view of the character the issue is focusing on, this is being told to us by someone who was told this. The second problem is the fact that we don’t get to see anyone else. The cover of the issue shows us Tim, Skitter, and Bunker, but Skitter and Bunker are only in one panel, and it’s not even really them. One is a hastily scratched picture of Skitter and the other is a newspaper clipping of Bunker behind one of his brick walls. It would be nice to get some more back story for them. Or Wonder Girl or Kid Flash or Solstice. Hell, I would have loved to know more about Danny the Alley. What the fuck is his back story?
Teen Titans 0 is good. It gives an great new origin story for Tim Drake, and gives a lot of insight into his character. At least to me it does. I could be wrong about all of what I just said. The art is great, but I wish it gave us a look at the other characters who we don’t really know much about at this point.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Batwoman. She is a really interesting character to me and I have loved all of her stories. Especially since in pretty much all of her stories she is fighting fucking ghosts and werewolves and shit. Batman’s got all the normal dudes, so it’s up to her to deal with the supernatural shit. This issue is great, too, keeping the art style and the panel style of the rest of the series which are two of its main selling points.
The story for this issue is set up as being a recording from Kate Kane to her father. Apparently, whenever she goes out on patrol or on mission she leaves a recording for her father in case she doesn’t make it back alive. We get to see Kate go over most of her life, starting with her and her sister as kids. Kate’s sister, Beth, would go on to die but not really and resurface as Alice, leader of the Religion of Crime. But this story stops at the death of Beth and her mother. From there we see how she grew up afterwards and how her father dealt with it. He was her rock. With her sister and mother dying, her father was all Kate had. And he was there for her. Every step of the way, he was there to make sure she didn’t fall.
From there we jump ahead a few years to see Kate in her early 20’s or something and meeting Rene Montoya. It doesn’t last long. Less then a panel, in fact. Then we get Batman and the journey begins. She starts vigilante-ing and her father finds out. But instead of stopping her, he trains her in the most insane ways possible. But it works. She comes back as Batwoman and we get the story we have now.
I really enjoyed this story. There weren’t many speech bubbles, mostly dialogue boxes. But the boxes didn’t just tell us what was happening. It added to what was being shown, giving us a look into Kate’s character and what she was going through from point to point. It showed that even though she hated her father around the time this is set, he is still one of the most important people in her life. Always has been and always will be. She comes across as a huge daddy’s girl, but I don’t mind it. It makes sense to me that she would be so into her father with everything that happened to her.
As always, the art is great. All of the stuff with just people is very washed out and toned down. It’s not exactly a happy story and the art portrays that. But where I think the art stands out best is with the Batman. He shows up for one full page spread and it’s like he’s not even part of the same world. That is something I have always loved about the Batwoman art. It always makes her look like something else, something not exactly in the same realm as everything else. The way the light hits her and Batman makes them stand out so much from the rest of the world. It is great.
The panel style from the main books is there, but in very short supply. I think we only get to see it at the very beginning and the very end. Everything else is just rectangles. The could have used a bit more variety in that area.
Batwoman 0 is great issue for Batwoman fans. It gives an interesting look into the way Kate sees herself as a superhero and her relationship with her father. But it’s mainly for Batwoman fans. If you don’t know much about Batwoman, a lot of this may be lost on you. Some things get brought up and resolved very quickly, and if you don’t know what they’re talking about then you’re screwed. But I am a fan, and I enjoyed the issue.
Okay, so the good is out of the way. Now on to the bad. And it is pretty bad that I had to think so much for the bad. It’s really a shame, too, the issues I didn’t like, because they are all from series I really enjoy. One of them is even written by Grant Morrison. Well, let’s get this over with, starting things off with:
Oh man, I love Blue Beetle. It’s a great series with a great lead character. Seeing Jaime go from an everyday kid to having to deal with a goddamn killer robobug suit is a great read from month to month. Unfortunately, for this issue they focused on the scarab and his whirlwind life of being nearly destroyed and abused by Mayans. How thrilling.
So the story in the issue is being told by the scarab, Khaji-Da. He is telling Jaime how he came to be embedded in his back. He was created by the Reach, an evil alien empire, to be the first in a line of ultimate organic weapons. On his maiden voyage, he tries to possess a little girl. And fails. Horribly. Turns out the girl is a pre-existing character called Lady Styx. I have no idea who the fuck she is. She was apparently in 52, but it’s been so long since I’ve read it and I cannot remember her at all. After that Khaji-Da flies around looking for another host and gets shot by a Green Lantern. He crashes on Earth and is picked up attaches to a Mayan tribe leader. But because of the damage he had already sustained, he was unable to control the host, called Sky Witness. So Sky Witness decides to use the power of Khaji-Da to take out a tribe that has been attacking his for some time. He rules over his tribe and eventually becomes the god known as Quetzalcoatl. After a century I think, he decides he’s lived long enough and detaches himself from Khaji-Da and collapses the pyramid he is in. Khaji-Da attempts to escape but is captured by the century old fart and is buried with him. Then it’s just still images on a weird background leading up to the present, where Jaime is in Reach space and surrounded by scarab controlled soldiers who want to kill him.
So much of this story goes by so fast that we barely get a chance to rest. The longest part of the story is the Sky Witness stuff, but here’s the problem: I don’t care. I don’t give two shits about Khaji-Da or how he came to be on Earth. He isn’t the main character of the story. Having a story about Jaime probably wouldn’t be what DC was looking for, so why not give us a story on La Dama? She was in the first few issues and then disappeared. She was interesting. What’s her back story?
On top of me just not giving a shit about the fucking scarab, he just comes across as such a pussy in this story. The scarabs are supposed to be the ultimate bio-weapon, yet Khaji-Da keeps getting his ass handed to him. Over and over, it’s amazing he survived long enough to actually attach to Jaime in the first place.
Blue Beetle 0 is not very good. While the art is great, the story moves so fast that you don’t get a chance to actually think about what’s going on before you move on to the next bit and I don’t care in the slightest about any of the bits to begin with.
Again, I love the Batman, Incorporated books. I mean, it’s Grant Morrison. How can you go wrong? This is how. A story that moves so goddamn fast I get motion sick with terrible art and way too many characters.
The story is about Batman going around the globe and recruiting heroes who have been directly inspired by him to join Batman, Inc., a new crime-fighting franchise. After Bruce sells it to his investors by arresting someone at the meeting, he moves on to find the rest of team. It’s unfortunate, but I didn’t read Batman, Inc. before the relaunch, so I have no idea who the main players are on the team except for Batwing and the Russian one. Everyone else has about three pages of face time before the book hurries along to its next hero. As a new reader to series, this is all very confusing. I barely known half of the characters names, let alone what the actually do. We see maybe three of them in action doing shit and the rest is just talking. There’s nothing wrong with talking, but the dialogue goes something like this:
“Join our team.”
“Okay. <insert character specific line here>.”
I don’t get a feel for any of the characters in the story.
Also, it’s hard to get a feel for the world the story takes place in when art is this shit. All of the characters have some detail to them, but they look like the wrong details. When pitching Batman, Inc., Bruce looks really creepy. I don’t know why but I really hate his face. Everyone else’s face looks like they have too much face for their face, especially the guy whose name is Dark Ranger, I think. He looks like a fucking caveman wearing a cheap wig. Knight’s armor looks like it’s not even attached to him properly. The only part of the story where the art looked alright for the characters was in the Russian Batman part, but that’s because most of it was covered by a snowstorm. The backgrounds are shit, too. Sometimes we get a single layer of color with some shit thrown on top of it to represent windows or doors, while other times we just get the silhouette of the set in one uniform color. Or we just get one uniform color with nothing happening in it. It all looks so lazy and terrible.
Batman, Incorporated 0 is the biggest disappointment so far. The other books have such great with such great writing and pacing that this feels like is was done by an entirely different team that missed what was so good about the rest of the books.
What did they do to you, Atrocitus? You were so great, now you’re some demon’s bitch who is only doing things to appease the hallucinations that blood gives you. Fuck it, let’s just get this over with.
We start on the planet Ryutt in Space Sector 666, where Atros is spending time with his daughters under the watchful eye of the Manhunters, the Guardians of the Galaxy’s first army of law enforcement. Everything is going great for Atros. And then his family’s dead. Seriously, Atros’ family is killed in the first three pages of the comic. We don’t get to see him be loving with his family so we can feel sorry for him. His entire interaction with his family is telling his eldest daughter not call her sister names and commenting on how chewy his wife’s orbs are. Then dead. Anyway, some demons from a few worlds over sense his anger and recruit. Together, they form the Five Inversions, who are determined to take down the Guardians for what they did. After fighting for a few centuries with the “blood magick” the demons granted him, Atros fucks one of the demons and gets another power. With the power of Blood Prophecy, Atros gets a glimpse into the future through the blood of his fallen adversaries.
After killing a Guardian, he sees he is destined to kill the demons. So after being banished to Ysmault, the homeworld of the Red Lantern Corps, he makes a Red Lantern and kills the demons with. No explanation on how he made the lantern. Not even showing us the process of making it. It literally just pops up in one panel. Next panel, he has a central power battery. He then uses the blood of the demons, which hasn’t dried up yet because I guess this took like 20 minutes, to see the second prophecy, which is the Red Lantern Corps.
This is so bad. I don’t know that much about Atrocitus’ original back story, but everything that happened with the Blood Prophecies were just so stupid. Atrocitus doesn’t take shit from anybody. If he actually did see that prophecy, he wouldn’t just go along with it. He would be pissed off and say “Fuck that.” And why does he create the central power battery and the lantern? It doesn’t say he is harnessing the power of rage for his vengeance on the Guardians. It’s just, “Well, I was fucking around and look what I made.” It is so fucking stupid.
The art is terrible, too. Everyone looks really stupid. I don’t know how else to put it. In the main books, Atrocitus looks badass. Blood red skin, razor sharp teeth, and ripped from head to toe. Here, he looks pink. And the Inversions look stupid, too. At the end of of Red Lanterns 12 we got a look at them and they were creepy and fucking awesome looking. Now they all look kind of dopey.
Red Lanterns 0 is a shit issue. It looks terrible and it makes Atrocitus look like a bitch to fate. Atrocitus is nobody’s bitch.
So yeah, that was Zero Month. What did you guys think of the issues? Let me know in the forums or in the comments below. Next time I’ll be taking a look at some non-DC comics, so that will be a treat.