Weekly Readings

It’s time for a new edition of Weekly Readings.  This week we have:

  • Batman #0, in which Bruce Wayne struggles against the Red Hood Gang, and his personal life.
  • Green Lantern Corps #0, in which we learn how Guy Gardner got his ring.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series #6, in which we learn what drives Casey Jones.
  • Demon Knights #0, in which we learn how Jason and Etrigan became connected.
  • Batman and Robin #0, in which we learn about some of the early life of Damian Wayne.
  • Before Watchmen:  Comedian #3, in which Edward Blake returns to America and loses it.
  • Batgirl #0, in which Barbara Gordon decides to become Batgirl

Of course there are spoilers after the break. 

Batman #0 – “Bright New Yesterday”
Six years ago.  The Red Hood Gang crashes a celebration for the re-launching(?) of Gotham National Bank.  The manager stands up to them, so the leader tells Red Hood Five (heh, Red 5) to put him down.  So, he hits him over the head with his gun, actually breaking the gun.  The Leader tosses 5 his gun, and tells him to remove his mask and shoot himself, because he’s not actually 5.  He would have shot the guy, and is left handed.  The Leader suspects this “5” is a cop.  The guy complies, asking them to just not hurt anyone.  The Leader points out that everyone is already dead, since they poisoned the cake yesterday.  This “5” fights off the other gang members, dodges the police outside, and escapes through the sewers.  He removes his mask, and it’s actually Bruce Wayne.  He returns to his underground base, which is in Crime Alley.  Alfred keeps nagging Bruce about returning to the mansion, and that he can also do good as Bruce Wayne.  While testing some equipment on the roof, Liutenent Gordon pays Bruce a visit, to see if he can get his help with investigating some shady business dealings being done by Wayne Enterprises.  Bruce says that he won’t be of much use.  Gordon also asks him if he knows anything about a high tech vigilante that’s been in the area, and appeared about the same time Bruce did.  Bruce avoids it, and Gordon comments that he will make an example out of anyone that knows anything and is hiding it.  The Red Hood Gang arrives outsides “Wayne’s Nest” inside Gotham, saying they’ll blow it sky high.  In the back up story set 5 years ago, we see Gordon talking with his daughter Barbara while he’s starting the Bat-signal, Tim Drake gets his principal arrested for embezzelment, Jason Todd is arrested after he beats up his partner after a robbery because the guy shot someone, and Dick Grayson stops a purse-snatcher at the circus and flirts a bit.

Now, I hear you pointing out the 3 year gap between Detective Comics and Batman, but it’s not impossible that Bruce Wayne would stay in hiding while setting up his base of operations.  And doing something that complex could possibly take 3 years.  And of course, there can be similar stories within those 3 years, so it’s not outside the realm of possibility.  Yes, I do think it’s foolish to try to cram all 3 Robins into a 5 year window, but not impossible.  I’d guess that Dick is 16-17 here, Jason being 14-15, and Time being 12-13.  That seems to be reasonable based on where they are now.  Otherwise, the issue was fine.  It played a little heavy on the “Bruce Wayne is the mask” angle, but at this point in the story, that’s an okay thing to play off of.  The last page of this story says it will continue in 2013, so we’ll have to wait a bit to see if Snyder is going to show us a transition from this to the current status quo.

Green Lantern Corps #0 – “Freshman”
This is the origin story of Guy Gardner.  It starts off with him as a trainee, and in a fight with other trainees against a villain named Xar.  Everyone else is killed, leaving Guy the last one standing.  The issue then goes to three months before.  (Which is really meaningless since we don’t know when things start.)  Guy arrives late to his sister’s graduation from the Police Academy (1 or 2, not 4-7).  Their father is not happy with Guy, but that’s something that pre-dates this encounter.  Guy’s brother Gerard gives Guy some Orioles tickets, and tells him that it takes two to argue, and he should try to patch things up.  Guy goes to his father’s his, but they just get into another argument.  This argument ends when Guy hears Gerard on the police scanner saying that an officer is down.  Guy runs off, and saves his brother from the drug dealers that had him pinned down, but unfortunately Gerard’s partner Marcus is dead.  While driving his brother to the hospital, Guy gets his Green Lantern ring, and rushes his brother to the hospital.  Back in the before time, Guy is able to defeat Xar, and brings him back to the Sciencecells.  Kilowog bestows full Lantern status on Guy, who decides that he doesn’t like the standard uniform, and gives himself his jack.  He meets Hal Jordan, whom he calls Harold, and things are immediately a bit tense.

I don’t know what exactly Guy’s origin was before this, but this one is okay.  Although, it doesn’t really add anything to the character.  He comes from a police family, and was a cop until something happened that may or may not have been his fault.  In anything other book, that would be fine, because it’d likely be a setup for something else.  But here, there is very little need to dig into Guy Gardner’s past in order to develop future stories.  But, Peter Tomasi is a good writer, and this is a well written issue, so it’s not a total loss.  And the bit at the end with Guy and Hal was nicely done.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series #6 – “Casey Jones”
Casey Jones promised his mother that he would look out for his worthless drunk of a father.  What this leads to is him beating up and threatening some shady people that his father owes money to.  Unfortunately, this also leads to Casey allowing his father to beat him up so his father can continue to think that he’s strong.

I’m not sure how I missed this one when it came out, but whatever.  I didn’t go into a real deep recap because it’s not needed.  This is what you need to know.  But, this was a nicely written issue, that digs deeper into a character that never really had much characterization from what I remember.

Demon Knights #0 – “The Prologue”
The demon Etrigan is feeling unappreciated in Hell, so he devises a plan to overthrow Lucifer.  He decides to take over the most dangerous demons in Hell, the Prose Demons.  He challenges and successfuly defeats their leader.  However, the next in stands up to make his claim as leader.  Etrigan has to kill him as well.  This cycle continues for a while.  Eventually a great warrior named Quip decided not to fight Etrigan, and joins him.  In Camelot, Merlin is having trouble dealing with Jason of Norwich and his temper.  After Jason causes an explosion trying to use some of Merlin’s magic, Merlin visits Morgaine Le Fey to learn what she can see regarding Jason’s future.  She reports that if nothing changes Jason, his rage will warp and consume him.  Merlin then visits his father, Lucifer, to offer a bargain.  As Etrigan and his forces attack Lucifer, Lucifer sends him through a portal to Merlin’s chambers.  Camelot is being attacked, but Merlin is able to bind Etrigan to Jason.  At first Etrigan threatens Jason and everything he loves, but comes to a realization that he needs Jason in order to stay alive himself.  They came to know each other over the years.  Jason accepted what had happened to him, but Etrigan never did.

Once again, I didn’t know what the original origin of Etrigan was, so I don’t know how it compares to this.  But, I liked this.  I think this story was one that needed telling, especially since Etrigan has sent everyone to Hell.  So, now we know some of the motivation behind what makes Etrigan tick.  I would have liked to have seen more between Jason and Xanadu, well Nimue as she’s called here.  But oh well.

Batman and Robin #0 – “Someday Never Comes”
Damian was a test tube baby, and his mother, Talia Al Ghul, put him through hell since birth in order to train him to be the heir, and inherit the world.  One year on his birthday, he asks who his father is, and she tells him that she will tell him if he ever beats her in a duel on his birthday.  So, each year, he loses, until his tenth birthday.  She takes Damian to London, where her man-bats have captured Batman, and introduces Damian to his father.

Yeah, this pretty much lines up with the way Damian Wayne was introduced in Grant Morrison’s “Father and Son” storyline all those years ago.  This was a fine issue, but I’m not certain that it really gives any new information.  Sure, blanks are filled in, but those weren’t very big blanks.  So, that forces the question of is it a good one off story.  And I’m kind of indifferent towards it.  There’s just not a lot to it.  Talia is a ruthless mother.  Damian doesn’t really grow out of it.  Though, there is an adorable panel where a 3 or 4 year old Damian finds the cape and cowl that Talia has been saving, and puts it on.

Before Watchmen:  Comedian #3 – “Play With Fire”
Edward Blake is laying low at a bar in Hawaii after an incident in Los Angeles.  In a call with Robert Kennedy, we learn what happened.  It started when he got off of the plane from Vietnam, and is greeted by protestors.  One of the protestors, who looks like Silk Spectre, hands him a flower and asks him to give it to the Vietnemese people so that they know not all Americans are like him.  A riot breaks out between pro and anti-war protestors, and the Comedian is escorted away.  Later on, he sees a riot on television and decides that he should pay it a visit.  After insulting the rioters, the Comedian shoots out store windows.  This causes the rioters to stop protesting and start looting.  He returns to the police chief, who comments that the people are acting like monkeys at a zoo.  This leads the Comedian to throw poop at the police chief.  Kennedy tells Blake that he needs to apologize to the police chief, but he tells him no.  Blake then leaves the bar with a floozie.

Wow, the Comedian is a bitch.  Up until now, the Comedian has been essentially a good little soldier, but it appears that that ends now.  There are 3 issues left in this series, and I’m curious as to how far are they going to go with it.

Batgirl #0 – “A Fire in the Heavens”
Four Years ago, Barbara Gordon is a college student who is using her connections to work on a paper for her Intro to Criminology class at the police headquarters.  Commissioner Gordon has Officer Morgan show her and James Jr. around.  During the tour, she spoken to by many old beat cops, but what interests her is the meeting being held about the Batman.  A prisoner named Harry X passes them, and he threatens Barbara.  There’s an explosion, and it’s Harry’s crew there to free him.  He chases after Barbara and James, wanting to take one of them hostage.  While running away, James turns on some tear gas, and leaves Barbara.  Harry X follows Barabara, but is momentarily halted by Officer Morgan.  Barbara gets the Batman costume from the meeting, and is able to beat up Harry X.  Batman shows up, and commends her on her work.  This is when she decides to become Batgirl, and is for at least a year.  She decides to quit, hoping to lead a normal life and help people that way.  She enjoys her new life until one day the Joker showed up at her door.

I liked this issue.  My only complaint is that I don’t think you really needed the montage at the end, or the moment from The Killing Joke.  You could have easily just ended it with her working on the costume, and used a few more pages within the actual story.  But really, that’s a minor complaint.

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