Author: Tom King (writer), Mikel Janín (illustrations)
Where do I start? Maybe with the hype concerning Tom King as the new Wunderkid of DC Comics, one of the few authors who allegedly could take the post-Rebirth Batman and put some life into the character nearing its permanent retirement age (80 years next May!). Tom King’s approach was supposed to be ‘cerebral’, his stories realistic and full of suspense. Maybe some of them are – I am not to judge, since I’ve read only the one and I don’t intend reading any other. Because, in short, The War of Jokes and Riddles was a smelly pile of horseshit.
Let’s start with the art, because later on it will be one long rant. Art is mediocre at best, with Riddler inexplicably beefed up and Joker looking like a drawing of himself from some really bad old comics. Batman and Selina look correct if quite generic, and that’s probably the best I can say about them. The main problem I have with Janín‘s art is that it lacks dynamics, and the eyes of the characters seem dead. They make faces, all right, but nothing reaches their eyes. The panels depicting the war don’t really make much impact – they are there, and they show what happened. Maybe I’m spoiled by other artists, I tend to choose my comics carefully knowing there’s a lot of fluff and a lot of trash out there.
Author: Brian Azzarello (writer), J.G. Jones, Lee Bermejo (illustrations)
Title: Before Watchmen: Comedian/Rorschach
Thank gods for libraries! Because if I’d bought this, driven by nostalgia, authors’ fame, or some misplaced need for adventure, or a revisit of the universe before HBO’s TV series scheduled for next year, I’d have been furious. All right, I knew the Watchmen prequels were a shameless money grab, there was no doubt about it. But I also hoped for some kind of tribute, a homage, or a thoughtful reimagining of the ideas and social commentary presented by Moore and Gibbons in the story and characters from Watchmen.
Need I say more? I probably ought to 😉 So, first things first, Moore’s and Gibbons’ Watchmen are on my list of favorite graphic novels of all time. Gritty, subversive, digging deep into the American superhero mythos and collective identity, Watchmen became at once the grist and the mill of the pop culture, simultaneously giving it lasting imagery and the tools to analyze it. We should probably do a Two-shot post on Watchmen here at Re-Enchantment, but because our views on the work of Moore and Gibbons are very similar, there wouldn’t be much suspense or tension. We might only have some differences of opinion regarding certain characters and plot devices (the fated pirate story, ekhm…), but our overall reviews would be quite alike.
I have been circling around Before Watchmen for a while now, at first dismissing this idea as a blatant and ill-conceived effort to capitalize on Moore and Gibbons’ work – and DC’s already done more than enough bad things in this regard. However, when I saw the Comedian/Rorschach book in my local library, I decided to finally give it a chance and overcome my prejudice – after all, I thought, Azzarello of 100 Bullets and Batman fame wouldn’t butcher Moore’s ideas.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I had a long break from blogging, because, you know, life 🙂 But now I’m finally back and I can happily present to you my first Batman drawing, a result of a recent in-house geeky challenge with certain strict rules: pencils as a chosen drawing technique and Batman portrayed up front 😉 So here we go!
Batman ⓒ A. Gruszczyk
There’s been a lot of talk about Wonder Woman, very favorable reviews (one of them, by Piotrek, on this blog), fan hype and critical acclaim. The movie’s heyday is already past, with Justice League on screen and other superhero movies crowding the benches. So why do I come back to it now?
Well, probably partly because I’ve been recently reading Moses Finley’s seminal work, The World of Odysseus – very highly recommended to anyone interested in ancient Greece. And partly because the movie sits like a thorn in my side, its popularity and acclaim, when confronted with its painfully stereotypical message, truly baffling.
Wonder Woman has been hailed as the first superhero movie with a woman as a lead. This is surely something laudable? After all, thanks to this movie we’ve read about subversive feminism and whatnots, discussed chainmail bikinis as a source of empowerment or subjugation, depending on one’s stance, and so on. Even Gloria Steinem took a stand, saying the film was very good, although noting at the same time that she “may be desperate – […] just happy that the Amazons had wild hair”. It’s been called the best of DCU movies so far, and while it in itself is not a big feat, it definitely forces comparison to other movies. It all seems highly beneficial to a summer flick which on its own is rather mediocre. We’ve all probably heard the voice of reason, saying, “it’s not perfect, but better this than nothing”, “it’s a step in right direction”, “I’ve seen worse”.
I believe this is a great year for superhero movies. Each of the great studio delivered. We got best X-Men movie ever in Logan, we got near-perfect Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and now there is the first good DC movie since Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
I’ve never been a fan of comic book Wonder Woman, but it wasn’t a strong dislike, I just couldn’t bring myself to treat someone in such a silly outfit seriously… and this simplified approach to Greek mythology was somehow more difficult to stomach than Marvel’s Asgard.
In the disastrous Batman vs Superman, Gal Gadot’s character was one of few good things. Seeing all the stellar reviews I decided to give it a chance. I was not disappointed.
Nobody cares about Clark Kent taking on the Batman.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice… well, it’s not a good movie. As a whole, it sucks. There are some decent moments, and some parts are played in a way that would deserve a better story to let them shine. Altogether though, gems are sparsely scattered along the movie’s 151 minutes.
For me, it is at once too long and too short. Too short for Zack Snyder to really tell us everything he was supposed to, too long for the amount of actual substance in it. I was frequently bored. And yet I did not know enough.
Marvel would prepare us for the story with a few prequels. The non-existent movie I miss the most is a Batman piece about Robin (that IMO should naturally follow Nolan’s trilogy). Affleck’s Batman could convince me, if I knew how he got here. Something from (comic-Batman spoiler alert!) here, judging from the clues. All things considered, his was actually a rather good performance. He made some stupid choices and was railroaded into his conflict with the other hero, but he could work given better plot.
When I learned of Piotrek’s bold plans to see and review of Batman v Superman next week, I decided to save the face of the Dark Knight and give you a review of Batman vs. Robin first :). Wait, wait; Batman vs. Robin? You sure you got the title right? The answer is yes. Batman vs. Robin is a pretty recent addition to a long series of animated movies set in DC universe. And contrary to the popular opinion of translating DC universe to the screen (with the exception of Nolan trilogy, of course), there are some veritable golden nuggets in this pile –like the famous Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which I very much want to see. The animated movies are more or less faithful to comic books – though more often than not that faithfulness is rather questionable – and they are decidedly not children-friendly. The creepiness factor is high, the style of the animation is quite close to the comic books, i.e. dark and gritty, and the main themes are pretty serious, from child abuse to betrayal and murder.