This week sees the continuation of James Tynion IV’s incredible first arc on Batman. In addition the new creative team debuts on Justice League, bringing an old foe of Superman’s to the forefront. Also, Harley tries out the world of Pro Wrestling in this week’s issue of Harley Quinn and we get an early Valentine’s Day gift from DC in the form of DC’s Crimes of Passion. Let’s get to it.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Batman #88 – Their Dark Designs Part Three – Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Guillem March
Wow! This storyline is incredible! I love the interplay between all of the villains as the pieces start falling into place. This issue picks up after the escape of the villains and the capture of Cheshire in the last issue, but it begins in a graveyard.
Why? You ask. Because that’s where Catwoman seems to be quite literally trying to get to the bottom of this. She is speaking to the Riddler on a secret frequency. I love the interplay here. He is needling her about being Batman’s Girlfriend and she is threatening him by telling him Batman is building a case against him. The Riddler informs her that Penguin seems to think this is the real deal and is taking precautions. He also tells her that burned bodies wearing clown masks have been found, inquiring as to whether she knows where the Joker is? Just then, she opens a casket containing a Joker corpse.
Meanwhile, Batman is recapturing Cheshire, when Lucius tells him there has been an incident at the Black Block. Contacting Bullock, he discovers that the rest of the prisoners have escaped. Though, as it turns out, they were kidnapped by Penguin, who is trying to stop this whole situation. He offers to pay off the assassins, but Deathstroke turns the tables. Suddenly, Batman crashes through the wall in an improvised Batmobile (More on that later). Batman takes down two of the assassins quickly, but Merlyn stabs him with one of Penguin’s umbrellas, and retrieves Cheshire from the car. Deathstroke holds Penguin hostage, and suddenly, without warning, SLITS HIS THROAT!
As Deathstroke and the others leave to go after their targets, Batman applies pressure to Penguin’s wound. He tells Batman the whole story, that he, Joker, Riddler and Catwoman set this into motion years ago. It’s a shell game to beat Batman with the false targets meant to distract him as the Designer took out the one true target: Bruce Wayne.
Back in the graveyard, Catwoman is getting scared, as she tries to contact Batman, but to no avail. Suddenly, the Joker corpse displays the same gas emanating form the mouth as the man found in the server room, and the same eerie voice warns Catwoman of the consequences of breaking the deal. As she is being buried alive, she decides to fight back, but there are a number of possessed corpses surrounding her. One suddenly takes a hammer to the head, and we see Harley Quinn offering her help to Catwoman.
James Tynion IV has had me hooked since he took over this title, and I don’t think I’ll be letting go anytime soon. This story is crazy and witht the addition of Harley, it’s probably only going to get crazier. Some of the things I love most about this story so far are the dialogue and the return of so many of the classic villains. I am huge fan of the 1966 Batman TV Series, so seeing the “Big 4” of Batman villains (Joker, Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman) all have a part in this story is fantastic. Also, I am loving the whole “Gadget of the Issue” thing that’s going on here. This time, it is the “Echo”, which basically turns any car with a Wayne Enterprises engine into a Batmobile. I would also like to compliment the art team on this issue: Guillem March and Tomeu Morey. This issue is BEAUTIFUL. I love how this team makes the characters and the city look and can’t wait to see how beautiful the next issue is.
The bottom line here is, if you haven’t been reading this storyline yet, go catch up now and then you can wait on the edge of your seat like the rest of us for the next part of this wild ride.
DC Crimes of Passion – Various Writers and Artists
This book is a special compilation of 10 tales with a love and romance theme put out in celebration of Valentine’s Day. I;m not going to go through all 10, because you really should check this thing out, but I will mention a few of my favorites. The first tale is a Batman tale set in the early years. It concerns one of Bruce Wayne’s first loves, Linda Page. She loves Bruce, but hates Batman. After she is brainwashed by an evil Hypnotist, Batman tries to break the spell by telling her the truth. After the incident, Bruce realizes he has to break up with her. he dies so in a letter which forms the narration of the story. One of the other reasons I love this story is because is written by the incredible Steve Orlando, who does not get the chance to work on Batman very often.
Also notable is an amazing Pied Piper story by James Tynion IV and Sam Johns. It is set in the present, as Hartley Rathaway, previously the Pied Piper has reformed and is living with David, a Central City Police Detective. He is summoned to the home of the mysterious Mr. Richards, who it turns out is a bit of a superhero memorabilia collector. He has located Hartley’s original pipe. It turns out he was part of Hartley’s first crime and he wants Hartley to play the pipe because he wants to feel liberated again. Hartley plays the pipe and puts him to sleep. He then returns home with the pipe hidden in his jacket pocket.
The rest of this collection is really cool because it features some heroes that don’t get a spotlight that often, such as Wildcat and Plastic Man. There is also a pretty cool Question story. It’s definitely worth checking out
Justice League #40 – Invasion of the Supermen Part 1: Impact – Writer: Robert Venditti, Artist: Doug Mahnke
The new team takes over on Justice League after Scott Snyder’s run ended. This story arc actually takes place before Justice/Doom War, since that story is continuing in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen, and the soon-to-be-announced sequel to Dark Knights: METAL by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. In this issue, the Justice League respond to a disturbance and find Sodom Yat, a former colleague of John Stewart, who warns that the Eradicator, and old enemy of Superman is coming.
Harley Quinn #70 – California or Death Part One: Harleen the Queen – Writer: Sam Humphries, Artist: Sam Basri
Harley Quinn enters the world of Pro Wrestling. Yes, it is every bit as hilarious and bizarre as it sounds, and a shocking murder at the end sets up a quest for answers, ans probably vengeance in the next issue. This is a great title that you shouldn’t sleep on.
That does it for this week. Next week, James Tynion IV and Peter J. Tomasi pay tribute to the fallen in Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. and Flash’s newest villain, Paradox, makes his explosive debut.