In which Dick Grayson sleeps with someone who doesn’t have red hair and doesn’t die (yet)

Nightwing/Huntres by Devin Grayson, Greg Land and Bill Sienkiewigz

An undercover cop is murdered in a hotel room in Gotham. Nightwing, left to protect the city while Batman’s out of town, investigates. Huntress is also investigating the death because the prime suspect is a member of the mafia. After a few run-ins with each other and a fair bit of head bumping they decide to work together.

And everyone knows what happens next. Obviously.

They sleep together, part ways, find each other again, solve the case, have a heart to heart and part on good terms.

Still, I really did like this story. As usual it’s hard to tell if  that’s because I adore Nightwing too much and got distracted from the plot or if it was actually good. I’m going to assume it was some combination of them both.

The mystery was pretty good I think, not that I’m much of a mystery person. I didn’t figure it out until at least halfway through, only a few dozen pages before the heroes did and of course, I was supposed to. I’m glad it was complicated and motivated by people being jerks, not complicated twisty evil scheming things. At least, I think I am.

But of course, the best part was Dick, Helena and a little touch of Barbara. Dick’s motivations for their brief fling are beautifully innocent and broken and guarded. Although he spends a lot of time flirting, I think the list of Dick Grayson relationships is like a third of Bruce’s and this one was kind of sweet, but in a way that really highlights the problems Dick has with love and other people because of the way he was brought up.

Helena, who I’m not that familiar with, also seemed pretty neat. Very female Bat, but without the moral hangup about killing people. Kick ass lady, who admits near the end that she had mostly slept with Dick to get into the Batfamily but you know she cares about him, just a little bit.

Barbara makes the last side of the love triangle, although I think this is actually pre Dick/Babs. Her appearance and concern for Dick was totally a highlight.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure that if I could have stopped life to finish that one, I totally would have. It probably wasn’t that awesome but I still loved every single second of it.

Last movie I watched: Still Argo. I’m starting to think about Ben Afflick’s facial hair pretty seriously.

Last TV episode I watched: Still Two and a Hal Men. I’m so ashamed. Way more ashamed of that then I am of my Batman binge.

A kids graphic novel based on a cartoon – seriously, could I be more awesome?

Young Justice Creature Feature by Greg Weisman, Kevin Hopps and Christopher Jones

So, while still recovering from the cancellation of Young Justice (seriously guys?!) I picked up Creature Feature for a huge number of super nerdy reasons but mostly boiling down to it being fantastic.

Maybe I’m not a great person to declare stuff like that since I haven’t really spend that much of my life watching cartoons and arranging them in order of awesomeness, but I’m pretty sure this one would be up high on the list if I had.

Anyway, the book was pretty excellent. One of the stories was the unfortunately named Aqualad taking Miss Martian and Superboy to Atlantis to protect him from awkward conversations with his ex (that happens all the time right?) but the team totally ends up saving the day. Again. The second chunk was what the non-ocean compatible team members were up to, which was hunting down an international organization who wanted to create giant mansnakes ’cause…. all normal villains like… mansnakes (my favourite ’cause all the mentors were around and I love them and their… mentoriness). The last was the whole team on a mission to a jungle island where they become the allies of some nice telepathic apes.

Yup sometimes when I say stuff like that out loud it doesn’t really surprise me that nerdy people aren’t always embraced by the rest of the world.

Anyway, it was a great read that almost filled the gap in my life that the show’s untimely end created and it’s still like nine hundred degrees in here and I’m lacking intelligent, profound things to say.

About a children’s graphic novel.

Based on a TV show.

That was based on a comic.

So yeah, everyone read/watch and bask in the awesomeness of Young Justice while I go find some ice or something.

Last movie I watched: Still Argo. Still impressed. Mostly.

Last TV episode I watched: Two and a Half Men. It was an accident I swear. That show is on ALL THE DAMN TIME and I don’t have great satellite options.

Always with science fiction and comics – the long lost family member

The New 52 Batman: The City of Owls by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, James Tynion Iv, Rafeal Alboquerque and Jason Fabok

Spoiler alert! Bruce Wayne’s long lost little brother turns up.

Whatever I was expecting from this book, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that. So I guess points to DC for surprising me. I thought it would be Batman battling the court. I didn’t see them all being dead at the hands of Bruce’s supposedly dead but not dead sibling. So that was neat. I like surprises.

So I’m pretty sure there are lots of things to be said about the narrative patterns and lack of kick ass ladies and confusion about continuity (In DC!?!? That never happens!) but it’s like a million degrees in my apartment right now and I’m pretty sure my brain has become somewhat… puddle like. So I’m going to give up on the paragraphs and grammar and stuff and going with the list. I love lists.

Also Mental Floss, which is a list show on Youtube.

1) I love that Bruce calls them “the family”. It’s so heartwarming. And also vaguely mafia like.

2 ) I love that Bruce gets very pissed off at the owls who invade his house. It’s so rare that any baddies get close to Wayne Manor that you don’t get to see him be all territorial very often and it’s super cute.

3) Damian and Dick get to team up! I love them

4) I kind of like that Fries is evil, straight up, in this one. I mean, I really do like complicated villains generally but in Batman pretty much all of them are Bruce’s fault somehow. I liked that Fries was just always heartless.

5) I really liked that Bruce refused to believe the long lost, long suffering relative villain stuff. So much drama could be avoided in fiction if everyone just stopped taking the word of random villains as absolute truth.

6) Dick and Bruce had the most beautiful conversation EVER.

7) I don’t really get the Pennyworth family flash back.

8) Love Harper (not the prime minister of my country, the kick ass comic book chick).

Done. Hope everyone’s staying cool.

Last movie I watched: Argo. I really liked it but I think it undersold the Canadians

Last TV episode I watched: V MARS IS AMAZING

Dinosaurs, dogs, poo and abandonment issues

Tommysauras Rex by Doug TenNapel

Tommysauras is a graphic novel about a boy named Ely who isn’t very good at making friends. Ely has one person in the world he loves though and that’s his dog, Tommy. When Tommy is hit by a car and killed, Ely is so devastated his parents send him to spend the summer with his Grandfather. While he’s there he meets a bully called Randy who chases him into a cave where he finds a tyrannosaurs. With a new best friend, nothing can stand in Ely’s way. Nothing but Randy.

I found this book lovely and also weirdly disjunct (apparently that’s not a word? Whatever, surely everyone understands what it means so it obviously is a word). One the one hand there was a lot of whimsical boy humor, a giant dinosaur who does tricks and  enormous poop jokes all over the place. It’s completely charming, very delightful, very boyish. It’s great.

On the other hand it’s got some pretty intense content. I mean, aside from Ely witnessing the death of his dog and doing some serious grieving, and (spoiler!) the death of Rex, the bully character of Randy is developed into a boy who is just desperate to have his father come back into his life. Pet death is hard, and Ely’s lack of human friends make it so much worse, so much more real-world sad. And Randy’s  whole life revolves around his lack of a father, the ways he struggles to maintain relationships with other people and the lengths he’d go to just to get him back. It’s really heart breaking.

So serious story, serious issues in this book but also it involves a dinosaur clearing a field of trees. Sometimes I feel like serious content disguised as a silly story is the best way to go, but this one just didn’t seem to connect them all the way somehow. I mean, I did really enjoy it and I’m glad it gives kids an opportunity to read and think and relate to parental absence but it didn’t quite click for me.

Still really liked it though. Particularly the conversation between Ely and his grandpa about who teaches you right from wrong if you don’t have a father.

Although obviously, I think a mother could to that too.

Last movie I watched: Sabrina. Or part of it anyway. I really like that movie but I’m no good at watching anything if I’m curled up in bed.

Last TV episode I watched: Probably something dumb. Big Bang Theory maybe?

Bat cow!

The New 52 Batman Incorporated Vol 1 Demon Star by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

Much to my surprise, given my haphazard comic book purchasing habits, I’d actually read most of this book before, just in little staple bound versions. I mean, I’d missed a few near the beginning but apparently I comic book collected most of this volume.  I’m not sure if that makes me awesome or incredibly nerdy.

I was terrified that I was going to watch Damian die in this book because repeat comic book trauma is a thing. Whatever.

Mostly the story revolves around Batman recruiting people for his Corporation and having the most massive fight possible with Talia, who’s feeling scorned and pissed off and wants her son back. And naturally that means destroying EVERYTHING.

Honestly, if the writer’s of Batman want to bring a shocking twist to the story they need to hook Bruce Wayne up with a woman who’s not evil or crazy. I’m just saying, no one would see it coming.

So, I’ve already written about most of this book somewhere else.  Mostly about how no one in Batman can parent to save their lives. Or the lives of their children. Instead of trying to think of more stuff to say, I will do a highlight list.

1) The recruit from Russia talking about vodka. Bruce responding that “He’s eleven. And I don’t drink.”

2) Jason Todd! Who I’m usually mostly indifferent to, was great.

3) Talia’s back story and how she became increasingly evil.

4) Any frame with Dick Grayson in it

5) Damian finding, adopting and naming a cow. Also protecting Batcow from Jason’s suggestion about eating her. He’s such a cutie.

Last movie I watched: Probably still a piece of an Adam Sandler movie

Last TV episode I watched: How I Met Your Mother. Neil Patrick Harris, how did you become so wonderful?

What would be an awesome story if it didn’t completely destroy Tim Drake!

New 52 Teen Titans: Volume 1 It’s Our Right to Fight by Scott Lobdell Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund

So I’m kind of of two minds about this one. One the one hand, the story was really fun. Teens with super powers coming together to fight an evil corporation that wants to capture, experiment or recruit them. How can you go wrong with that right? Cool fight scenes, awesome supporting characters, running, hiding, growing as people, forming great relationships with each other, generally being likable and amazing.

But when one of the those characters happens to be Tim Drake (Robin #3) and they take his character and they make him into something that’s like a horrible cross between Tim Drake, Bruce Wayne and a tiny bit of Jason Todd and then expect me to still love him! That’s just so not okay with me. I mean, I love Tim Drake and you can’t just take his whole personality and make him into this kind of heartless tactician who only cares about the mission. That’s Bruce! Not Tim. Tim is supposed to have Bruce’s detectiveness but without his coldness and I just… they broke Tim. Why, why did they do that?

Other than that, it was a good story. Standard recruitment tale, but still pretty solid.  I actually really liked the character that was Tim Drake, he just wasn’t Tim Drake. But he made a good team leader, and was cool, I liked how paranoid he was and how clever and the fact that he could compete with all the super powered humans he was hanging out with. He just wasn’t Tim. Superboy was cool, suitably clueless and prone to punching stuff with a dark past that saved us from Superman level perfection. Cassie was also nice (Wondergirl Mark 2 I guess?). Strong, sassy, defensive. I liked her. I adored Bunker, the lighthearted, genuine, caring, faith filled superhero who’s power is… magical purple bricks which is not as cool as it could be, but he was a nice character (also gay, but in a delightfully subtle way, as in he’s gay but it’s not his only character trait, further proving that gay people are…. actually just people). Kid Flash was pretty much the same as any other Kid Flash I’d ever seen (read awesome), Solace was an okay team member, I didn’t get as much of a feel for her as the others because I kept thinking… “gee look it’s Starfire’s replacement” and Skitter, who had the mandatory uncontrollable power on the team, but a truly beautiful relationship with Bunker.

I’m a little concerned that maybe these characters existed pre-New 52 and they’ve also been murdered and I just don’t know about is, since I’m not that familiar with them. Hopefully no one is sitting at home feeling as betrayed by DC as I am right now because Solace or Cassie used to be so much more awesome. If you are, I’m sorry. I feel your pain.

Last movie I watched: A small piece of Just Go With It. My TV was having an Adam Sandler marathon or something. Anyway, it was silly. I didn’t really like it.

Last TV episode I watched: Two and  Half Men. The best (possibly only) redeeming quality of the show was watching that boy grow up. Poor kid.

A Justice League I actually liked. In the New 52 no less.

The New 52 Justice League Vol 2 Villain’s Journey by Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams

So, I have mixed feelings about the New 52. Most of my tumblr feed seems to hate it. They did appalling things to poor Tim Drake (which had better be reconed out later or else…) but I have enjoyed some of it. The Owls timeline was really awesome. Although I was a little hesitant when it came to embracing Batman Incorporated, it is a really neat idea and maybe a natural place for the story to go. I adore Nightwing’s stories so far. Or maybe I just adore Nightwing. Whatever, I can’t tell.

And maybe I shouldn’t say things like this since I’ve only read this one volume, but as far as I can tell, the Justice League really benefited from the reboot.

For example, the Justice League number got cut from like a billion or however there were in Final Crisis to seven. Yup, nice manageable number, didn’t need an encyclopedia for figure out who was who, it was great. So we’ve got Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Gordon, so that makes him what, Green Lantern #1?), Aquaman and Cyborg. Obviously a little disappointing ’cause we’re missing some of my favourites (Green Arrow, Black Canary anyone?) and there’s only one  lady hero and she doesn’t ever wear pants. But seven is just a much more reasonable number of heroes. They’re able to develop relationships with each other. How novel.

It also contained some pretty epic bromances. The Batman/Superman love was delightful (although I do love it when they have more of a love hate relationship) without having any giant sex aliens getting off on their relationship. Seriously, that’s a thing. (Check it out: http://www.cracked.com/article_18957_the-8-most-awkward-sexual-moments-in-comic-book-history.html). Green Lantern and Flash also had quite the homosocial life partner thing going and that was cool.

Actually, what it boils down to was the team dynamic. It was all awesome. Aquaman feels left out ’cause he’s torn between being in the League and protecting his underwater kingdom and none of the other members of the team get that, or are particularly supportive. Green Lantern is a cocky jerk who likes to assert himself all the time but really has no plan, and therefore pisses off Wonder Woman and Batman almost constantly. Flash is the peacekeeper. Batman’s paranoia separates him from the others, but brings him closer to Superman, apparently the only person he trusts. Wonder Woman is all rash and likes to punch stuff and is constantly confused by men and their existence but manages to figure it out enough to snog Superman. And let’s face it, they’re both are rash, like to punch stuff and are confused. I think they’re prefect for each other.

I guess there was a story in there too which was good actually. Everyone, or at least everyone who reads DC (or else they need to stop reading it like right  now), loves a super villain inadvertently created by the superheroes. It wasn’t genius but it looked pretty closely at grief and guilt which are interesting.

Final note, I found the drawings particularly appealing, so well done them!

A likable Justice League comic.

Last movie I watched: Like 10 minutes of Just Go With It. It wasn’t my fault! I don’t know why my landlady pays for satellite. There’s never anything on.

Last TV show I watched: Some cartoon called the Winx. See above reasoning.

It was better the Just Go With It.

The book that made me fall deeply, truly and completely in love with Tim Drake (Robin #3)

Red Robin: The Grail by Chris Yost and Ramon Bachs

It has been my long held belief that Tim Drake is the most unappreciated male Robin (no one cares about Stephanie Brown). Dick’s charming and amazing and the first and has really great character. Jason’s got the bad boy, back from the dead thing going for him. Damian, well he’s just adorable isn’t it? But Tim, no one really seems to love him.

Which is totally brutal.

As exhibited by this graphic novel, which is about Tim.

The book has two story lines mixing in nicely. The “now” story line has Tim traveling around the world using the name Red Robin  and searching for Bruce, who he believes is still out there somewhere, lost in time. He decides he needs a new identity because there are lines he’ll have to cross if he is going to find Bruce and he doesn’t want Batman and Robin tainted by his actions. His mission drives him to Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins and he enters into a reluctant partnership with one of Bruce Wayne’s most powerful enemies.

The “then” story is focused on Tim’s relationships with pretty much everyone he loves falling apart. He feels completely betrayed by Dick, when his older brother chooses Damian to be his Robin. Stephanie and Cassie (Wonder Girl? I’m not sure what her superhero name is but she’s like Wonder Woman, but not Donna, the one who came after that) try to reach out to him but he assumes they’re on Dick’s side and rejects their help when they don’t believe him about Bruce. Ultimately it leads to a showdown between Tim and Dick that ends in Tim leaving Gotham.

So what made this one of my favourite Batverse books ever was Tim’s struggle. I’m not sure if this says great things about my stability but I absolutely empathized completely with Tim’s feelings. He’s just trying to do the best he can in a situation that’s way too big for him and only half sure he’s not completely crazy. He’s isolated himself from his friends and family and has no idea what he’s doing, only that he’s got to keep doing it.

Who hasn’t felt that way once or twice?

His internal conflict was beautiful handled and way, way more interesting than the punching/kicking/throwing things conflict (although that is pretty excellent too – he’s got a great inner voice). Honestly, perfect.

Last movie I watched: Dear John. I was promised a moving movie watching experience. Didn’t really happen though. I’ll never be as perfect as that character Amada Seyfried played. Which means no one as dashing as Channing Tatum will ever fall in love with me. Which means I will have a devastatingly lonely life. Lame.

Last TV episode I watched: VERONICA MARS!!!!!!!!! Soooooo good.

A few sweet character moments, but mostly just Batman punching stuff. Also detecting.

Batman Detective Comics Vol 2 Scare Tactics by Tony S Daniel

Okay, so I really did have a good time with this in the fifty minutes it took me to get through it. It was great, it was exciting, Bruce ran around and was awesome and beat people up and figured things out and was all determined not to be mind controlled or let fear drive him (common theme of Batman) and all that other super important stuff.

But there’s not that much about this story that’s going to stick with me.

I liked the writing of Bruce with a dark sense of humour, since he usually doesn’t have one at all and I really liked the drawings. Fun was had, laughter was heard and squeeees were most definitely squeeeed, but I’m not really sure what else to say.  It was good, it was everything a Batman should be, it had sneaky, evil scary villains and I loved it.

Just not enough to write about it.

Last movie I watched: Iron Lady. I’m not sure I loved it.

Last TV episode I watched: Camelot. Liked it, but decidedly didn’t love it.

What felt like an awful lot of work for very little Batman

Final Crisis by Grant Morrison, J.G. Jones, Doug Mahnke and 23 other people who are totally awesome and amazingly talented but aren’t going to get their names typed out by me. Sorry team.

So assuming that you (whoever you are – seriously, don’t you have something better to do with your time?) aren’t a huge Batman nerd, Final Crisis contains the “death” of Batman which was actually Bruce getting stuck in the past. That lead to Dick and Damian becoming the Dynamic Duo and it just seemed required that, if I’m going to have a thorough knowledge of all things Batman, I’d have to read this story.

For the record, Batman has like ten pages near the beginning where he was all cool and detective-y, gets kidnapped and then doesn’t show up again until his short, but really epic death scene. I’m not really sure if it’s just my personal bias but I really felt like Batman’s “apparently-he’s-dead” spread was the best part of the whole thing.

When I started thinking about the Justice League I was like “DC… what were you smoking? Mixing a bunch of superheros who get their powers from totally different places on totally different levels hanging out in the Hall of Justice? Who thought that made any sense at all? I know it was the sixties and all but geeeeze.”

Sometimes I think I’m wrong about that. There are some really good Justice League stories. Doom, which is a movie based loosely on the Tower of Babel comic book arch is kind of awesome. All the members of the Justice League are well characterized, unique and kind of limited in their power, which is awesome. The cartoon Justice League that was on TV in the early 2000s also managed to make everyone’s superpowers not a big deal and to keep everyone’s character filled out and interesting. Young Justice was just awesome.

But sometimes the stories just suffer from too many characters and too convoluted plots. To start off, there are like a million superheroes in the Justice League and then think about it, if you’ve got Superman on your side, what kind of situation also requires support from Green Arrow? Or Batman for that matter. What is challenging enough for a god like alien to face down and a totally normal human in a mask who has a fondness for projectiles to manage? And the answer is usually completely ridiculous. Not always, sometimes it does work out really well, but often you just end up with a multipronged attack on earth that’s so complicated the best GSP in the world couldn’t explain how to get from point A to point B.

That’s kind of how I felt about Final Crisis. By the end I’d more or less forgotten who was a hero, who was a villain, who was a hero turned villain (and vice versa), I was pissed off that all the lady heroes had gone to Darkseid and I just wanted Bruce Wayne to reappear and bring some semblance of an understandable plot with him.

I still enjoyed it. Bruce’s not death was spectacular. I’m a fan of Black Canary and Green Arrow and Oracle and they all had stories I understood. As usual, Batman hanging out with super powered aliens and holding his own makes him way more awesome. But by the time we got to the walking tiger wearing a suit I knew I was in way, way over my head.

Last movie I watched: Iron Lady. Meryl Streep is kind of amazing.

Last TV show I watched: Camelot. But that’s all over now.