Batman: Streets of Gotham: 11 issues from 2010
Writers: Chris Yost (1 issue), Marc Andreyko (Manhunter backups in 8 issues), Paul Dini (6 issues), Mike Benson (2 issues), Ivan Brandon (2 issues, Two-Face backup in 2 issues)
Yost’s arc had me skeptical when I read the first half, but it resolved itself pretty well.
So, I’d heard about this scene and already thought it was the absolute height of Damian’s insufferable Gary Stu wankery:
Victor Zsasz, a dude whose whole thing is that he sees everyone as a corpse, inexplicably decides Damian looks fully alive to him for no reason other than to bash it into everyone’s heads just how special Damian is. Like, he’s already leaking ■■■■ty fanfic OC tropes from every orifice, did we need this too? Damian isn’t doing anything special here other than beating Zsasz up, which Batman does every five minutes, but even he doesn’t get this level of ass-kissing.
But what’s really disappointing is that this is from Paul Dini, who normally can, you know, write.
And why is Damian so special?
His entire reason for existing and having the role that he does, both in- and out-of-universe, is basically Bat-Nepotism.
I even like Colin Wilkes, but he doesn’t wind up doing much compared to Damian in this arc.
Next up, we have a character who has the exact same annoying mannerisms as Film Freak from that awful Catwoman run, once again shoving aside a more interesting character (the Carpenter) to take up page space with obnoxiousness. Come on, Dini. I know you can write.
… OK, maybe I’m being unfairly harsh on that arc because of the one immediately before it. (And Film Freak.) It was actually sorta fun.
Ivan Brandon’s Two-Face stuff… it’s the story of how he lost his coin, I guess? But, like, this isn’t the first time that’s happened. I dunno.
Dini makes Hush more interesting than most writers do, though a chunk of the plot of this arc (as far as I’ve read) only happens because Zatanna is an idiot. The plan has been that Tommy-as-Bruce’s babysitter stays with him at all times no matter what else is going on, but Zatanna tropelets away to help with a pretty standard Arkham breakout.
Meanwhile, in Manhunter land, I feel like being kinda “Blast legs off first, ask questions later” is pretty much strictly Kate’s own fault at this point.
Kate has attempted to schedule dates with both Dick Grayson and Jim Gordon within twenty-four hours. That’s gonna make the next Birds of Prey meeting awkward.
Harvey Dent representing himself is a little silly, but I’m not sure there’s a specific reason he can’t. He’s disbarred as hell, but defendants are permitted to represent themselves even if they’re not lawyers. “Fool for a client” and all that, but I guess it checks out. Though saying he’s competent to stand trial and represent himself, but still has to be committed to a mental health facility and not a standard prison probably calls for arguing an extremely specific level of sanity.
Odder is Kate threatening Jane Doe with execution in a state that doesn’t have the death penalty.
Red Robin: 11 issues from 2010
Writers: Chris Yost (7 issues), Fabian Nicieza (4 issues)
Having the main character be named Tim and a major supporting character be named Tam is just inherently tension-breaking. Especially when there are multiple narration captions that are just “Tam,” because the line in the script could have been “TIM: Tam.” That’s just a funny-sounding sequence of syllables, like “dill pickle” or “wangle” or “Mxyzptlk.”
And… look, I like Tim, but some of the things he pulls off in this book are really over-the-top. One of his big weaknesses is that he isn’t the fighter a lot of the other Bats are, but here he’s bouncing through rooms full of assassins and metahuman murder machines unscathed by sheer power of narration.
And he’s being kind of a prick.
The “room full of assassins” thing happens more times than you’d think. Apparently they like to form into teams. Seems kinda counterproductive to the “stealthy killer” thing, but hey, if assassins want to have fun with their friends, who am I to judge?
And hold it! Stopping Hush from selling off Wayne Enterprises by making Tim an emancipated minor (he’s still a minor???) makes no sense. As far as anyone knows, Hush is Bruce Wayne. Even if Bruce willed his shares to Tim, Tim can’t steal them from a living “Bruce” just by being emancipated.
Once Nicieza takes over, it’s a bit derivative of Tower of Babel, but I think I’m liking it a little better? Still more of Tim winning fights he’s got no business winning, though. Again, like him and hate Damian, but Damian is also supposed to be this overpowered little mini-ninja trained to kill from birth and Tim is the more-brains-than-brawn guy. If I have to tolerate Damian existing in the first place, he probably would win a straight fight, especially here where he had the advantage of surprise.
And more Anarky. OK, this hasn’t gotten that much better.
Batgirl: 11 issues from 2010
Writer: Brian Q. Miller
This book is incredible. It’s a scientific marvel. An unexplained literary phenomenon. It…
Finds a new way to be stupid on every single page.
I mean, I think I may have to do separate dropdowns for each individual issue just to cover the high points. Low points. Whatever.
#4: Apparently Extremely Limited POWAAAAH
I am way more agitated than I should be that Babs apparently somehow got the GCPD to get rid of the backup generator in their headquarters. To be “green,” apparently, but it’s a backup generator. You’re not supposed to use it unless something goes horribly wrong. Their cars probably use a thousand times as much gas in a year, and that’s accounting for the fact that blackouts are probably unusually common in Gotham due to supervillain attacks. So not only is it a really atrocious idea for the police to not have a generator, but it’s annoyingly out of character for someone as paranoid as Oracle not to think of that. In fact, she had backup generators in the Clocktower (before it blew up, RIP) for exactly this sort of situation, which saved her ass in No Man’s Land. And guess why this comes up? There’s a blackout and Central loses power! Golly, who could have predicted this eventuality?!
If this seems like an exceedingly minor point to be getting worked up over, it is. But it’s also something that is so utterly intuitive that it shows a complete lack of thought. Plus basic “You clearly wrote the exact opposite of what you meant” tier errors in dialogue are popping up again.
Anyway, and I am still on one issue here, Steph takes out Livewire by kicking a fire hydrant which Livewire conveniently happens to be hovering above. Even though she was running away from Livewire. Her narration asks “What would… anyone else do in this situation?” before she pulls this off, so apparently most people have the powers of instantaneous teleportation and conveniently placed enemies. And can set off a fire hydrant by just kicking it.
She also is apparently immune to Livewire’s powers because her costume is “insulated,” but if Livewire can’t exceed the breakdown voltage of an insulator thin and flexible enough to be sewn into a costume (after eating an entire city’s power grid, I might add), she should just give up now.
#5: How Dare You Be Standing in the Same Room as My Screwup?!
Moving onto sigh a second issue, I’m going to play a little game. I’m on the second panel of the first page. A building has burned down. A reporter is talking to the owner and his son. My guess is the owner burned it, probably to collect the insurance or put up a more expensive building. Could’ve been the son, I’ll count that as bonus points if that’s a twist, but more likely a third love interest (in addition to Tim and that detective guy I don’t care about).
OK, we’ll see how close I am once I finish complaining about other thing.
Why is Damian speaking in Britishisms (“Petrol” and “bugger,” specifically)? In Batman and Robin, he mentioned that he’d spent enough time in England to recognize a fake accent, but he’s never been written with the slang.
Then we have the whole “Steph is reckless and screwed things up” argument, except as far as I can tell she actually resolved a situation that Damian was threatening to make worse. But nobody chews out Damian over this. He probably charged in without thinking and almost caused an explosion (Not Steph, who, again, did something entirely sensible to fix the problem) because of “influence.”
I mean, we do get this gem:
But I feel like Babs should be yelling at Dick and throwing him out of the Batcave and not the other way around. Batman and “Robin” were the only ones who did anything remotely wrong!
In fact, you know what? Even Dick is really starting to get on my nerves in this era. He is living up to his name with exasperating consistency.
And then… wait, why does Steph need to take Babs’ clothes here? I guess this is to shoehorn in the weird comment about a push-up bra to follow up the equally uncomfortable “What chest?” joke (which wasn’t consistent with the art in this series, let alone any previous one, but still), but is there a reason she can’t go get her own clothes?
OK, the “mystery” remains outstanding by the end of the issue, so my guesses are still up in the air.
#6: Always Bet on Ack
We’re back to Dick being a, well, you know. But, like, the book doesn’t seem to want to fully acknowledge what a moron he’s being, when he’s objectively being a moron.
The bad guys also waited a surprisingly long time to start letting the mob of Z-list villains loose, but they’re all quite tonally incongruous with the rest of the arc.
So… hang on, Roulette is here?! And she’s somehow wrapped up in an arson scheme? I may have gravely underestimated just how little sense this arc would make. And her scheme is the exact same one that “Director” guy was doing at the same time in Streets of Gotham. These writers don’t seem to like to talk to each other. That’s OK, though. I wouldn’t want to talk to people putting out this crop of books either.
#7: Purple Five Standing By
I don’t know enough about computers or hacking to say for certain, but the technobabble sounds wrong. Do you “lose” firewalls? Can you “rewrite” an encryption on the fly? Does a “router maze” protect your stuff?
Oh, also, there’s the unholy lovechild of a motorcycle and a TIE fighter. That’s a thing that exists now.
And it doubles as a… cannon that shoots you out? Was this thing designed by a four-year-old? And this thing was supposed to be designed by Oracle as a getaway vehicle. How would this be remotely useful for her? The fact that characters repeatedly stop to talk about how amazing this thing is when it’s really not is eerily reminiscent of Jean-Paul Valley’s subway rocket from Knightfall.
It also stops to remind us that Steph had a concussion from being shot in the head, which she just… walked off, I guess.
#8: The Tim/Tam Flim-Flam
OK, Tim being kind of a prick is Red Robin’s problem that’s just bleeding over here, but it hasn’t stopped being the case.
Also, this detective guy is so boring. Other than the fact that the writer seems to be trying to set him up as a possible love interest to both Babs and Steph, which is just uncomfortable.
This is part of a crossover with Red Robin, but has a bunch of basic continuity errors relative to the issue it’s supposed to be following. The dialogue at the beginning is to the same effect as the dialogue at the end of that issue, but it’s different for no reason. And Lucius asks Tim where Tam is (that’s still funny) even though he saw Tam first there. Again, do the writers not talk to each other, even when they’re directly crossing over?
The League’s game plan here seems rather… slapdash. They claim they’re going to destroy Bruce Wayne’s legacy or whatever, but then they just jam some communications and send like five ninjas after Leslie Thompkins, completely ignoring Tim and Lucius. And then go after Thompkins (and other people) again in the following Red Robin issue.
#9: I Thought That Was Cell Phones That Did That, Not Calculators
More attempts at computer babble when you could have just, like, not.
More uncomfortable flirting with Detective McBoring.
The Calculator is talking to his son’s corpse and can make zombies now.
The usual, basically.
Wait what was that last part?!
#10: I am Still Confused
No, seriously, what the hell? When did this happen?
#11: Wow This Arc is Still Going Huh
Is it just me, or has the pacing gotten really slow all of a sudden? There’s like a plot point per issue.
#12: Holy Crap Just Stop
I guess Kilg%re is here now.
Or was that not him? What was giant techno monster guy? Actually, screw it, I don’t care.
As the end helpfully notes, that’s this arc “finally concluded.” Even the story knows it’s going on too damn long.
#13: You're the Only Ship in Range
You know, there’s a lot of “Everybody else is busy, it has to be you” here too.
Anyway, her plan for Clayface is to throw Batarangs that explode into goop. He is goop, you idiot!
And I still don’t like Blandy McLoveinterest and super don’t care about whatever angsty backstory he’s apparently probably going to have.
#14: I Wonder if There's a Dracula Lantern Corps
OK, Kara is actually adorable. Credit for that.
You know, the dialogue of the characters reacting to the cheesy movie is not much less wooden than the intentionally bad fake movie dialogue.
Wait, so a machine somehow converted twenty-four frames of a movie into hard-light holograms of a character in it. Let’s pretend that makes sense for a moment.
Why are the holograms autonomously mobile and vaguely sentient-ish? There had to be a more sensible way to implement this premise.
So, credit where credit is due time, I like…
I guess I kind of like…
Some of the scenes with Babs and Wendy? And a couple of the jokes are very nearly almost not unfunny?