The Weekly Pull – 12/21/11


I’m writing this is the wee hours of the morning on the night before I have to get up and leave at nine on a ten hour drive. So it’s probably a good thing that I only have three issues to go over for this week’s Weekly Pull. And here I was disappointed that I only had to put down money for three books this time. Then again, I’ve sort of countered this by also checking out and/or buying three trade paperbacks for the trip.

As well as a copy of Moby Dick just for the hell of it. Call me insane. Because I’d have to be not to consider three trades enough for less than a week. Maybe when I get back I’ll talk about the trades for the hell of it.

The first book is BATMAN #4. In retrospect, I do like the fact that DC renumbered all at once, if for no other reason than being able to know right off the back which issue I’m on for nearly every book. Now, while I think Detective Comics is in good hands but requires one to be in a particularly morbid mood to be enjoyable, Batman has been a fun ride so far. And this issue is no exception. The mystery of the Court of Owls is coming to a head, the pacing is fantastic, and we’re getting some backstory on Bruce Wayne that isn’t about the death of his parents.

This brings up an issue I have with many Batman stories. When the writer thinks they need to fill time, they just allude back to the death of his parents. As if anyone picking up a Batman comic or film or video game doesn’t already know Batman’s origin story. The Batman-centric stories are best when they either keep him at a respectable distance, have him flexing his detective muscles, or being forced to encounter drama or tragedy outside his parents’ deaths. Like the death of Jason Todd, back before he came back to life because Superboy Prime punched the walls of reality.

Another note, Batman loses some of his mystique and dramatic gravity when forced to interact with other elements of the DC universe that were never made with a pulp-inspired setting in mind.

Regardless, Scott Snyder seems well on his way to becoming the next great Batman writer, up there with Alan Moore and Frank Miller. That is, Frank Miller before he went clinically mad and started making Batman out to be a crazy, fascistic, and pedophilic maniac.

Moving right along, DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS #4 continues its examination of our favorite disembodied spirit, Deadman. For those unaware, the purpose of DCU Presents is to provide a consistent means of showcasing characters that, for one reason or another, do not have an ongoing series, but the writers would like to take a crack at them. Although in Deadman’s case, he’s already in Justice League Dark and has a guest role in Hawk and Dove. Whatever, DC seems to really like Deadman, and he’d be the best choice when it comes to getting people to read this ongoing.

Continuing to read this book, however, has not been easy for me. It’s been a pretty slow and meandering ride, ironic considering this issue has Deadman going on a roller coaster ride with the devil himself. It’s a lot of really abstract and pseudo-philosophical ramblings in this book, motivated by Deadman not getting the point of why he has to possess people one after the other at the behest of a quasi-Indian goddess named Rama. Now I would argue that the entire point was already stated from the outset and perfectly clear: that by helping people overcome their problems, he’s learning how to be the better person he never was in life.

But no, this has to be some kind of divine conspiracy (DC comics having the frankly erroneous and insulting policy that all religions are true at the same time), and that his purpose is to further the ambitions of Rama. The book also seems to take delight in setting an attitude of bleakness and nihilism. If I wanted nihilism portrayed in a comic with a hint of smug self-congratulation, I’d go read Watchmen.

Although a lot of that is attitude is being fueled by the devil, though, so I’m willing to cut this book some slack. It has the benefit of the doubt because why the hell would one ever trust the devil? And despite being very annoyed by this book’s apparent worldview (or the appearance of it), I’m four issues into a five part story. I might as well stay on for the end. It’s really not my cup of tea, but I’m sure someone would find it right up their alley.

For something less bleak and depressing, we end off with JUSTICE LEAGUE #4. One of the complaints I and many critics levee against this series when it first came out was the slow pace of it all. And really, not a lot has changed with issue four in that department. Which is not to say I haven’t found the book compelling. I have it in mind to take all the issues of this series when this story arc finishes and see how the pacing works without the month-long gap in between.

The book certainly hasn’t been lacking in stuff going on. In fact, I’d say the slow pace is more a result of just having so many little things and scenes to establish that it’s taken this long to finally get around to showing the main villain. And what an appearance. It’s one of those few moments when a two-page spread (flipped on its side) actually has merit, given the gravity of the reveal. I’m not sure why I decided to not spoil it, since he was referred to in the first issue.

Probably lack of sleep. Better go to bed immediately after I post this.

Since I’ll be out of town (and presumably away from a wifi connection), there won’t be another post until a week from now. Just in time for the next Weekly Pull. So to everyone out there, have a Merry Christmas!

And also Happy Hanukah. That’s all the holidays worth mentioning.

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