DC This Week Roundup – The Many Worlds of Batman

Comic Books DC This Week
Batman ’89 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Batman ‘89 – Sam Hamm, Writer; Joe Quinones, Artist; Leonardo Ito, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: This reinvention of the Burton-era mythology from screenwriter Sam Hamm is surprisingly ambitious for a movie tie-in. Only two issues in, we’ve already got a potential Robin in the young vigilante Drake, a blue-collar African-American mechanic from Harvey Dent’s old neighborhood of Burnside. After an apparent tragedy, Bruce Wayne is thinking about how to make a difference with his wealth. This series seems to want to answer some of the larger questions surrounding Batman’s role in the community, and it also has a lot of ties to current politics even if it’s set thirty-two years ago. Its take on Gotham is fully fleshed out, even though some of its characters like Harvey Bullock and even Barbara Gordon seem oddly villainized. The appearance of a major player comes out of nowhere in the last few pages, but I’m intrigued by the character’s involvement. The last few pages, seemingly the birth of Two-Face, are a brilliant study in pacing and tension from Joe Quinones. Still excellent, and I’m just sad this is only six issues.

B: TAC S2 cover, via DC Comics.

Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two – Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Writers; Jordan Gibson, Artist; Monica Kubina, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: With Jordan Gibson jumping on art this issue, we get a story that does some things that the series wouldn’t be able to do in an all-ages cartoon. We’ve got gunplay, hard-boiled noir action – plus some unambiguous LGBT representation! That’s right, it’s a Renee Montoya spotlight, as the by-the-book cop gets a commendation – and gets on the wrong side of Rupert Thorne. The ruthless mafioso, seeking a political comeback after the death of Hamilton Hill, has employed a new villain named The Muscle to get his revenge on Montoya for ruining one of his drug labs. Muscle is essentially just a more competent Bane without the drug addiction, and they even look the same. Probably the weakest foe of the series so far, but this issue feels a lot like an episode of the original series – right down to some clever use of Bruce Wayne’s secret identity, and some great snark from Alfred.

The Batman and Scooby Doo Mysteries cover, via DC Comics.

The Batman and Scooby-Doo Mysteries – Sholly Fisch, Writer; Scott Jeralds, Artist; Carrie Strachan, Colorist

Ray – 8.5/10

Ray: And now for something completely different! This issue of the all-ages detective adventure takes us back to the earliest days of its heroes – as a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne (wearing a familiar costume) teams up with the kids of A Pup Called Scooby-Doo. Bruce is seeking the mentorship of famous Detective Harvey Harris – but Harris has already taken on the Mystery Machine crew as his junior apprentices. Bruce winds up agreeing to babysit to impress Harris, and the kids and the teenage Bat-in training wind up chasing down the case of a mysterious monster-man with ties to a notorious Bat-villain. It’s impressive to see some very current Bat-references in here, and some clever running gags themed to the 90s cartoon. This is definitely a lighter issue with younger characters, but it’s another example of how no one knows old-school Hanna-Barbera continuity better than Fisch.

FS: Gotham cover, via DC Comics.

Future State: Gotham – Joshua Williamson, Dennis Culver, Writers; Giannis Milonogiannis, Artist

Ray – 7.5/10

Ray: In Gotham’s future, things have gone from bad to worse for Batman and Red Hood. The reluctant Peacekeeper and the new guardian of Gotham have been captured by the insane Warmonger and are being forced to fight in a Gladiator-like arena. Warmonger is an amusing villain, like a more violent version of classic Robin villain Maxie Zeus, but he’s got an origin that ties back to the Magistrate and Astrid Arkham. It feels like this series is held back sometimes by the elaborate Future State mythology, and the other Gotham heroes get very little to do this issue. However, the art is fantastic, as Milonogiannis’ detailed art comes across just fine in black-and-white. There’s a tense cliffhanger that sets up another showdown, and don’t miss the free reprint of a Rafael Grampa story in the back, likely from one of the Batman: Black and White anthologies. Great chance to see a master at work.

Pennyworth cover, via DC Comics.

Pennyworth – Scott Bryan Wilson, Writer; Juan Gedeon, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist

Ray – 7/10

Ray: Much like Batman/Catwoman, this series takes place in three timelines, but I don’t think it’s nearly as smooth with them. The oldest timeline is the best, focusing on a young Alfred as his father takes him through Butler training – which involves everything from deciphering codes to moving bodies. The present-day segment, which has Alfred captured by old enemies and pulling off a daring escape, is tense but has the least page-time. The issue is the middle segment, which finds Alfred and his partner/lover Shirley as spies taking on Russian mad scientists. This is the one closest to the tone of the TV series, and while it has some good visuals, never knows exactly what genre it’s in. Alfred works best as a hard-boiled traditional spy, so having him go up against shape-shifting super-soldiers with gun arms doesn’t quite work. Still, solid characterization and visuals.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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