Where we look at the books from DC that came out this week. Includes: BATMAN #11, SWAMP THING #11, DEMON KNIGHTS #11, RESURRECTION MAN #11, and THE SHADE #10. In part two, we’ll look at the stuff from Marvel and the independents.
First is BATMAN #11, and the long awaited conclusion to the Court of Owls saga. Is it too short to call the thing a saga? Whatever, it deserves the title because what we have here is perhaps the best Batman story ever written.
And believe me, I do not engage in hyperbole on a regular basis. It’s that damn good.
It’s been a long ride – nearly a year long ride as a matter of fact. Yet it feels like only yesterday; the Court was only the whispers in the dark, from the lips of the mad. Now we’ve learned much about the history of the Waynes, of the Pennyworths, of Gotham’s oldest families, and of the city itself. That’s one thing Scott Snyder does better than most Batman writers: making the city itself a character. Such is done beautifully might I add.
So far as story is concerned and how this issue ends, I refuse harder than ever before to reveal anything. This is a command from me to march into that comic store (or Comixology if you’re so inclined) and pick up these eleven issues. Heck, the first trade paperback is out on sale, containing the first half of the saga. Whatever you do or however you can, buy this book and read it, especially if you’re a fan of the Dark Knight.
Speaking of the Dark Knight, I’ve heard word that once the Christopher Nolan trilogy is finished, DC intends to base the next film on the Court of Owls saga. Nothing wrong with that.
Next is another book written by Scott Snyder, SWAMP THING #11. Anton Arcane, uncle of Abigail Arcane, creator of the grotesque Un-Men, and current spokesman for safer health care and reconstructive surgery, has returned from the Rot to claim his niece after trouncing a weakened Swamp Thing and leaving him for dead. But Alec Holland won’t abandon the fight easily, especially if it shouldn’t be physically possible for him to fight at full capacity because of the war he just fought by himself. It’s at these points we’re given no recourse but to smile a nod about how that worked.
Not that it matters, given how fairly cool the fight is between the two formerly human doctors. Oh, and Animal Man shows up at the end. I’d withhold such spoilers, but honestly I’m just glad we’re finally getting around to that Swamp Thing/Animal Man crossover. It’s been on the horizon for a while, so I’m glad to be seeing it taking shape.
And speaking of taking shapes (more transitions! Whee!), DEMON KNIGHTS #11 gives readers a look into the inner workings of the cast by way of polymorphic sorcery. During a battle with an apparently undead King Arthur, the team are hit by bolts of lightening that transform them into exaggerated forms dependent on their “essential natures”. We have Al Jabr, made into a big head with massive intellect and no needs of the physical body; Horsewoman becomes fused with her horse into a centaur, a literal horse-woman; Vandal Savage and Shining Knight are mostly unchanged, though more beastial and with exaggerated proportions; Exoristos we don’t see very well, but from what we do see and from context she seems to be more hideous and ogre-like, probably due to guilt tied to her mysterious past; and Etrigan naturally is just a significantly larger demon. Only Madame Xanadu remains unaffected.
That last bit makes sense given a revelation at the end of the issue.
The party stays in their new forms for a bit before undead Arthur leads them off to a magic spring that restores them, as well as restoring the living body of the Once and Future King. Yes, this issue formally introduces us to King Arthur, and gets him to join the party in what is no doubt a temporary position. I admit I’ve never been all that fond of Arthurian lore in particular, but fans of the stuff will probably love the references.
Although I find it funny how easily Arthur is willing to join forces with a demon. Especially given he kind of reduced Etrigan to normal power again, which is certainly not what Etrigan wanted, regardless of enchantment.
On to RESURRECTION MAN #11, where our heroes infiltrate a secret lab hidden in a soda bottling plant. Who wants to bet that “Soder Cola” will never make an appearance in DC comics again? If only for the laughs and a bit of in-world consistency, I’d love to see someone in some other book down the line get thirsty and chug a bottle of Soder.
Or maybe the word “Soder” is gratifying for very personal reasons I won’t disclose. Who knows?
So the plan is for Mitch and Kim to sneak into the plant, infiltrate the lab (which takes the form of a huge invisible tower above the plant, ala The Shadow 1994 film), and rescue the Transhuman from captivity. And try to find out some stuff about Mitch’s mysterious past if time permits. Given that nothing ever works the way it’s supposed to, things don’t end well. But from the look of things, we’ll get an ending nonetheless. Maybe even a good one.
See, DC has a number of new series they want to bring out in time for the one year anniversary of the reboot. And since they want things to remain as close 52 ongoings as possible, a couple series are ending soon. One of them is Justice League International, and another unfortunately is Resurrection Man. Though it seems like the writers at least knew about this well ahead of time, so we’re currently on a course to get done with this tragic past business, then end off with a big fight against the forces of Heaven and Hell.
Maybe. I can’t say for sure. It’s all speculation on my part. It just seems like the series is already getting its affairs in order. Not like OMAC, which got canceled at issues eight and never got to address most of its plot threads. And on the upside, once this series ends I can reduce the number of series I buy each month by one. Which is always a good thing.
Always. A. Good. Thing.
Lastly is THE SHADE #10, where we near the closing of the curtain on this play. The titular Shade was kidnapped by an unnamed masonic cult with its hands in various legal and extra-legal activities. It also employs ninjas, a large group of (usually naked) dudes, several ninjas, and bound ancient Egyptian god-like beings. The latter being able to suppress the Shade’s shadow powers. Kind of.
It’s mostly a lot of talking, posturing, some banter between immortal great-grandfather and spoiled great-grandson, and trickery. Obviously. It wouldn’t be a very good Shade story if no one used some kind of wily scheme. All around, it’s a pretty good issue bolstered by great art, which is growing on me steadily. Keep up the good work, Mr. Irving.
Only two more issues of this to go, and another series can be checked off my pull list. Curse you James Robinson for being such a good writer. At least when you’re not trying to poorly define “Justice” several hundred times in a miniseries.
Next time, it’s the Marvel and Valiant books.