The “We’re very sad about Damian” comics

Batman Detective Comics Requiem by John Layman and Jason Fabok

Batman Requiem by Scott Synder, Andy Kubert and Sandra Hope

Batman and Robin Requiem by Peter J Tomasi, Pat Gleason and Mick Gray

Nightwing Requiem by Kyle Higgins, Juan Jose Ryp, Roger Bonet and Juan Aldarran

Batgirl Requiem by Ray Fawkes, Daniel Sampere and Rob Hunter

Batman Beyond Unlimited 13, 14 by Fridolfs Corona, Beechan Breyfogle, Yeung Krul and Porter Livesay

So this a bundle of comics I bought mostly so I had some way to mourn Damian that didn’t involve tumblr or looking at a sympathetic coworker and moaning “Damian” whenever I get too bummed out about it.

Some of them were better at it than others. The Detective Comic only has one page where Bruce and Alfred are sad about Damian’s death, and while the other thirty four pages of comic were nice, they didn’t really do that much for me. Batman beats up dudes for a while – it’s a classic, but not that unusual either. The Batman was better, because it was full of Bruce being sad (yes, apparently I seek comfort for fictional character’s deaths in the grief of other fictional characters, that’s totally normal okay?) and a good story,told mostly through a young woman who was surprisingly kick ass for a DC lady. The Batman and Robin was super, super heartbreaking. There were no words at all, just Alfred and Bruce trying to get through their lives with Damian’s absence. It was remarkably well done and probably my favourite stand alone comic ever. The Nightwing was also gutting because of course Dick was Damian’s Batman for a long time and they had a really great relationship. Plus there was a really beautifully written comic a few months ago which they keep flashing back to. Watching Dick try everything he can think of to help him feel the pain just a little less and failing each time is heart wrenching.  Then his conversation with Damian’s headstone, it’s just so raw and honest I totally cried. Which should surprise no one. The Batgirl was a really good story piece but it had very little to do with Damian’s death, other than having Barbara acknowledge it and try to talk to Dick about it. Good, just not what I was looking for at the time.

The Batman Beyonds held some particularly exciting moments. Pretty much anything with Dick Grayson is wonderful, Terry is his usual sweet self, Dana finally works out that Bruce and Terry are the Batmans and we see the apparent death of a super big villain, which is a refreshing change. One of the neatest things was the narration is the one told through Dana’s perspective. Her story had never been that interesting to me until I read that one and then I started to think she might actually be a character and not a love interest. My other favourite part was the new Flash is a black woman. I feel like that’s about as ballsy a move as DC can usually manage, having a woman superhero wearing clothes, particularly  if she’s an iconic one that’s usually a Caucasian man. So, good for them. Sorta anyway. Baby steps.

Last movie I watched: The Hobbit. That was… a thing. I’m not sure about half of it was a good idea, but what do I know? I spent most of it being distracted by how beautiful Richard Armitage is, even when dressed as a dwarf

Last TV show I watched: Episode of Veronica Mars. Yeah, started that. It’s really good so far. I mean, I knew it was, but I’m still impressed.

Book two in a fantastic series that’s probably not actually meant for kids

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

Okay, so this book  is the second in a series that started with the Last Dragonslayer and I more or less have the same feelings about it as I did the first one. Primarily that while it is an awesome story with loads of wonderful quirky characters and clever word play I’m just not that sure that kids are going to get the full experience of reading it.

Because the quirkiness of the characters is just so random and delightful and… literary. Not that that’s a bad thing, I’m a huge fan of stuff being literary I just don’t know that many kids who would read the words “transient moose” and start to giggle about it. I mean, I think it’s hilarious. Who doesn’t love the idea of a large temporary land mammal?

In my mind, any child who has to go to the effort of working out what “transient” means.

The book is delightfully genre savvy but unlike say, Alcatraz in which the narration draws attention to its awareness of itself, this book depends on the readers to find it. Without underestimating the intelligence of children, I have a feeling that for many of them, an appreciation of this kind of meta writing probably isn’t really there.

You know how all the great Pixar movies have jokes for parents embedded in them? I feel like this book is only jokes for parents. It’s a good story that kids can totally enjoy, but the thing that makes it unique is probably not coming through.

So yeah, great book, totally fun, looking forward to reading the next one whenever it comes out but I’ll probably continue to question the wisdom of marketing it as children’s lit.

Last movie I watched: Secretariat. Super sweet, beautiful horse but I kind of guessed the ending.

Last TV episode I watched: I’m not sure I remember. Maybe a Grimm or maybe a Batman or maybe a Batman Brave and the Bold. Weird.

 

Everything about how not to parent that I learned from Batman

Nightwing 17 by Kyle Higgins, Juan Jose Ryp and Roger Bonet

Batman Incorporated 4,5,6,8 by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Jason Masters

As a single, stand alone Nightwing comic with whatever it is, 36 pages, this is one of my favourites. Dick’s just had like … the worst I don’t know, entire life? … ever? His girlfriend’s dead, his circus burned down, whatever happened in the end of Death of the Family probably totally sucked for him too and he keeps telling everyone he’s fine. But my darling, sweet Damian totally sees through it and it’s just wonderful.

There. I’ve spoiled the whole thing for you.

As far as plot goes, there isn’t much. It’s pretty much the build up to a beautiful bonding moment, no doubt dreamed up in the evil brain of Grant Morrison so we could all be extra devastated when Damian dies shortly after.

He’s a jerk.

As demonstrated in all of these Batman Incs.

In 4 Bruce forbids Damian from fighting Talia and her evil Leviathan army of random dudes forcing Damian to … put on a different costume and do it anyways. Lesson one in bad parenting: closing off too many safe options makes your child go with the worst possible one.  At the end he tells Damian he can never be Robin again and in fact needs to go back to Talia. Lesson two: avoid having zero faith in your children and sending them back to their evil crazy parent if you’ve seen a possible future in which the world gets destroyed. Bruce then leaves Damian in the care of the former Robins to go fight Talia. Lesson three: striving for as much strife as possible between two parents will screw up your child.

And in the last one Damian dies.

There’s probably a lesson in there somewhere, but I’m too distraught to work it out.

Stupid Grant Morrison killing Damian to prove a thinly veiled allegory about divorce or something. I loved him!

Yup. Nothing else to say other than…. it’s day 69 and I’m still not over it.

Last movie I watched: Les Mis. Still. But it is a hard one to follow.

Last TV episode I watched: Batman. The 90s one. With the crazy crime boss who thought he was Zeus. DC has an amazing capacity for ridiculous villains

Dystopian Teen Lit: Increasingly my favourite genre fiction

What’s Left Of Me by Kat Zhang

This is a story that takes place in a vague future in which America has made a huge number of bad decisions and is incredibly repressive of the people. But luckily one girl will stand against them, expose their treachery and fight back!

Said the blurb on the back of every piece of science fiction for teenaged girls published in the last little while.

So there’s like six  hundred and ninety thousands books with the same basic plot. That doesn’t mean some of them can’t be pretty wonderful. What’s Left of Me is an example of that.

In this America every body is born with two souls inhabiting it and the expectation that by the time the body is about five years old one of the souls will have just sort of quietly died, disappeared or faded out of existence. For Eva and Addie though that didn’t happen. Now a teenager, Addie has tricked most of the world into thinking Eva’s gone. But she’s not. She’s alive, and narrates this story.

It starts with Addie and Eva pretending they are normal because they’ve been brought up to believe that being a hybrid is dangerous, not just to them but to society as a whole. But everything changes after they’re befriended by a girl who not only knows about Eva but can help the repressed soul relearn how to control the body.

And I totally enjoyed every page. It was an easy read but still challenging in the sense that it posed some hardish questions about people, parenting, some hard core concern about medical procedures and the way we identify “sick” people, particularly when there isn’t a physical ailment. Addie and Eva are contrasted with their little brother Lyle who only has one soul and therefore is “normal” but requires dialysis on a weekly bases. Addie and Eva have a healthy body and are completely functional but because of Eva existing at they are viewed as sick. I don’t know, there’s definitely some subtle, and not so subtle, mental health issues in there somewhere, I’m pretty sure.

One part that I sort of struggled with was the way parents handled the situation. Much like the criticism of the Hunger Games regarding how passively the people react to their children being taken away from them, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something kind of fundamentally wrong with parents just allowing one of their kids to die, particularly as the book goes on and its revealed that people love, miss, value and cooperate with their other souls, and other people’s other souls.

Check out that last sentence. Sensible? I think not.

But as usual my favourite part – the relationships between the main characters. In this case, Addie and Eva who share a body, fight like mad, say terrible things to each other and at the end of the day absolutely do what they have to to protect the other. As they’re dynamic gets more intense, the book gets better and better.

For the record, I kind of liked the love… square… I guess… in this book.

And that’s pretty unusual for me.

Last movie I watched: Les Mis. Anne Hathaway…. you are …. spectacular

Last TV episode I watched: Raising Hope. Hilarious. And kind of makes me want my own tiny person.

But if I can’t afford a cat right now, I think an extra human is right out.

Adventures in grown up books

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

So I’m pretty sure that this is an amazing book. Sometimes I’m not sure that I should trust my own judgement about amazing books since I’m so enthusiastic about Batman comics, but this one won like… a Pulitzer so I’m pretty sure someone who’s more of an authority on the subject of awesome grown up books agrees.

Sam Clayman is a Jewish teenager in New York, an artist and comic book enthusiast, abandoned my his father, who lives with his mother and grandmother. Joe Kavalier is his cousin, who recently escaped Europe, leaving his parents and younger brother just as the second World War is beginning. Joe is also artist, and with Sam as the brains together they set out to create a comic book hero as successful as Superman. Based on Joe’s training as an escape artist, driven by his hatred for Nazis and Sam’s understanding of the genre they invent The Escapist.

The story starts in 1939 and reaches to about the 1950s.

The writing itself itself is really beautiful, the characters are great, the adventures are just wild enough to feel almost superpowered but real enough to feel possible and these complicated questions about what it means to escape, what people have to escape from and whether or not escaping is a responsible choice are all woven through the story in quirky, fun, thought provoking ways.

I think I’m going to talk about the love triangle just this once. Here there be spoilers. Sorry.

Joe’s love interest for most of the book is Rosa. The pair are passionately, deeply in love for most of their relationship and are almost perfect for each other. Sam, who’s struggling with his sexual orientation really loves Joe as well, although strictly asexually, but he is sometimes confused by his feelings of jealousy at Joe and Rosa’s relationship. Rosa is fond of Sam as well but it’s not until Joe runs away to join the navy, leaving Rosa pregnant that she really starts to love Sam, because he marries her and helps her raise Joe’s son. Of course, their relationship is platonic and Rosa knows that Sam is gay but their love for each other is real. It’s kind of a love triangle about loving versus being in love. Which is just kind of cool isn’t it?

Anyway, for a book that’s kind of escapist it asks a lot of questions about escapism. Sam trying to escape his identity, his relationship with the only person he ever really loves and the monotony of the life he chooses out of a sense of duty. Joe tries to escape from his survivor’s guilt, his failure to save his family and his absence from his son’s life. Never mind the number of times  a character ties himself up in a box as a magic trick, this story is about what people will do to get away from their own lives.

And it’s excellent.

Last movie I watched: Still Hester.

Last TV episode I watched: A different Young Justice

The most under appreciated Robin

Red Robin 21- 25 by Fabian Nicieza, Ray McCarthy, Freddie Williams II and Marcus To

Batman and Robin The New 52 16, 17 by Peter J Tomasi, Pat Gleason, Mich Gray, Keith Champagne and Nick Gray

Oh man it’s been forever since I blogged anything (apparently I work like a child – forever is any length of time longer than when I’m going to eat next). That’s mostly because I haven’t read much this month. Seriously, it’s been these 7 comics and one grown up book. That’s all. For pretty much all of April.

Anyway.

Red Robin is the series about Tim Drake and what he did with his time after Dick chose Damian to be the next Robin. I don’t think it’s still running, but hopefully someone will bring it back sometimes in the future because Tim Drake doesn’t get the attention he deserves. Tim is the third Robin, who worked out all by himself that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson were the Dynamic Duo (although as I understand it, DC  reconned this in the New 52 ’cause they’re jerks) and came to help after Jason’s death. He was a great Robin generally, but the internet seems to love the other Robins so much more. Dick Grayson, I totally get because he’s too damn wonderful not to adore, everyone loves the drama of coming back from the dead morally grey so Jason Todd is a favourite, no one remembers Stephanie Brown and well… Damian is just awesome. So somehow Tim just gets lost.

But his series is actually super awesome. It’s filled with appearances of the Batfamily (this is the first time I’ve met Cassandra, aka Batgirl take 2) and Tim’s frustration and affection for them, which is really how almost everyone feels about their family if everyone’s being completely honest. The story is sufficiently mysterious but with favourite returning baddies (Jean Paul Valley what!?) and keeps everything moving on quickly.

My favourite moment comes when Tim has been taken prisoner, is tied up and being seduced by a lady villain (yeah one day I’m going to write a paper about rape in DC, how badly they handle it and how most of the characters who get raped seem to be male) and he thinks to himself “isn’t this pretty much how we got Damian?”

The Batman and Robins were also good fun but I’d missed a few leading up to them so the story was kind of disjointed and nonsensical. I’m really looking forward to DC publishing Death  of the Family in graphic novel form so it’ll be a little more coherent. Anyway, the important parts are that the Joker was creepy, Damian was darling and everyone had loads of intense hallucinations.

Last movie I watched: Hesher. Not sure how I felt about it. It had it’s moments I guess but overall it didn’t really do anything for me.

Last TV show I watched: Young Justice. The second episode. Totally whelmed.