Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Justice League #21

Death is really into studded leather friendship bracelets.

• This story is called "Endless" because I think Bryan Hitch has stumbled onto the greatest comic book writing idea. If you write a story that never ends, you never have to come up with another story! And if you base the story on an incident that will eventually be stopped due to time travel, the story automatically falls outside of continuity. Because if it ever ends (which it won't), it will be like it never happened at all! Holy fuck. The guy is more genius than I previously thought. Previously, I thought he was less than 0% genius. Of course, that means he has to keep this story going until somebody at DC says to another somebody at DC, "Hey. Have you seen what Bryan Hitch is doing to Justice League? Is anybody going to put a stop to that?"

• This comic is about an event that the Justice League will stop from ever happening. So nobody needs to read it. I only say that because it's a comic book. If this were a story in another medium, there would be a universal theme that lift the story above its mechanical parts. Or it would have characters learning something while the readers, emotionally invested in them, come out a little more thoughtful at the end. But being that it's a comic book, the story is only here to take up another month's worth of space and the characters never actually learn anything. It's not like the next story will feature a Flash who learned something profound from his experience and applied it to his life. No, The Flash from the last story is the same Flash as the one in this story who will be the same Flash as the one in the next story. Characters in comics rarely grow so their stories barely matter. So stories about stories that never actually happen matter even less than the normal stories which already exist as mere pop culture Styrofoam packing peanuts.

• I might seem a tad overly critical about a medium I spend a lot of time engaged with. But I like Styrofoam packing peanuts!

• The issue begins with a scene containing people who aren't the Justice League. It's the guy who will destroy everything with his Cosmic Jackhammer and his wife who is sleeping with his boss. Maybe that's how Flash will change time! He'll expose the affair and Mr. Cosmic Jackhammer won't be able to destroy the world because he's dead from having blown out his brains after smothering his wife and children in their sleep. That could be considered a win for the Justice League, right? Just one family ruined as opposed to all the families ruined?

See? Take her out of the equation and he loses all motivation! And maybe he doesn't murder them and kill himself! That's like a triple win!

• The Flash goes further back in time so that now he knows the Justice League caused the explosion by trying to stop the explosion. So now he can try a different tactic to save the world. This story isn't just Memento, it's also Groundhog's Day.

• Since The Flash has so much time at his hands (being that he keeps getting time travel do-overs), he decides to waste a bunch of it explaining what's going on to Batman. Batman is all, "Look at you! Time traveling without your Little Blue Pill!"

• Batman decides to team up with The Flash. Not because he knows The Flash can't solve the mystery without him but because he knows if there is any time travel going on, he wants to be a part of it. He's tired of being erased out of existence and replaced by new versions of himself as The Flash wanders higgledy-piggledy through time.

Grandmaster Comic Book Reader!

• Okay, so I didn't know Mr. Cosmic Jackhammer already knew about the affair. But knowing there was an affair there at all was pretty perceptive, right?! I suppose I have to give it up to Bryan Hitch, for once, for making the not so subtle clues not so subtle!

• Batman, Flash, and Cyborg (who was roped in to hack all the computers and read all the emails) pursue the mystery and save the day. I mean, they'll probably save the day. This story is called "Endless," after all. So it probably has about infinity more parts to it. I'm just guessing at what the end might be if it could have one.

• In the end, Batman and Flash don't solve the mystery at all. The creature they thought was the bad guy was actually a good guy and the Cosmic Jackhammer was his Starheart. By stopping the supposed bad guy who was actually good, the Justice League almost destroyed the world. Why haven't they learned that, in a Bryan Hitch story, everybody who seems to be good isn't and everybody who seems to be bad isn't. At least they are and aren't right up until Hitch needs a shocking twist ending and they suddenly aren't and are. Or something.

• This was another Hitch story that was exactly the same. A regular person becomes bad due to the Justice League failing to save his family. Plus a character they thought was bad or good turned out to be the opposite of what the Justice League thought at the beginning. Those two stories are the only stories Bryan Hitch appears to be able to write.

• I don't know what the fuck the cover has to do with this story. But Batman does say at one point "Even the Reaper invasion." Is he referencing a story that was supposed to happen but never actually did? It must have been a time travel story and time was fixed before I got a chance to see the broken part of it. At least Batman remembers.

The Flash #22

It's okay to burn books if they're terrible, right?

• If the Justice Society is being reintroduced to the DC Universe, I bet they come back more diverse. I bet Jay Garrick arrives and says, "Hello. I'm Jay Garrick. I'm asexual. I had to say that right up front or else nobody would ever know and fans could only speculate which is all they've ever been able to do in the past being that the general rule was all characters were heterosexual. But if I don't say it right now, right up front, how are all the asexual comic book fans going to know that they have to now consider me their favorite character?"

• It's a good thing Jay Garrick is on the cover or I might not have realized that the ubiquitous Narration Boxes were coming from him. Sure, they show the lightning bolt in the corner so the reader knows whose mind they've been allowed into (because how can a reader know what's happening if somebody isn't constantly explaining it to them? (you probably shouldn't read The Wild Storm if you nodded your head vigorously to that sarcastic question)) but with two other Flashes right there on the page, it could have been confusing.

• Reverse Flash (who died but now isn't dead because fuck you) declares he knows who gave the smiley face button all of its power. The Flash declares how embarrassed he is that Reverse Flash can time travel without an aid and also because Batman is witnessing it. Batman declares he will forever after this moment refer to the Cosmic Treadmill as "Flash's little blue pill."

"Barry, I'm here! And I'm asexual!"

• Reverse Flash arrives at Mister Manhattan's feet and receives a lethal dose of editing. You would think this time it would take. Erasing Revers Flash from the DC Universe could solve a lot of continuity problems. But I've already seen ads of Reverse Flash appearing in future Flash comics so I guess DC just can't resist his allure as Flash's rival. I can understand why. They didn't go through all the trouble of coming up with the perfect name for Flash's nemesis to just throw him away. Now if they'd chosen Evil Flash or Opposite Flash or Yrrab Nella the Hsalf, I could see sending the character to limbo. But Reverse Flash! So great! Unless it's Reverse-Flash. I'm never sure about the hyphen. I think it both exists and doesn't exist due to all of Reverse(-)Flash's time travel shenanigans.

• The Flash can't run through time because he can't get any traction. That's why he needs the treadmill. It's not like he doesn't want to run through time with Batman. He totally wants to! It's all he can think about! But when the time comes, he just can't get his feet to work. Luckily old man Jay Garrick has arrived to help! Not that he'll help in the metaphor I've been cultivating because Jay is asexual. But he'll help The Flash and Batman run through time to get them home.

They did it to sell more comic books. But the bump in sales didn't have the long term effect they were hoping for.

• The Flash doesn't remember Jay Garrick the same way he remembered Wally West. I guess that's because DC isn't ready to publish a Justice Society book yet. Or maybe The Flash did save him but he returned to Earth 2 as he was saved! Now DC can publish that Justice Society book whenever they're ready. Which actually means they'll publish it about eight months before they're ready. They really need to work on nailing down their reasons for doing things before they just jump in and do them.

• A later scene suggests that Bruce Wayne doesn't find happiness in being The Batman. Oh, fuck you, comic book. Of course he does. Stop pretending he's some kind of Jesus figure sacrificing a boring, mundane life so he can save us all from our sins by being a super fantastic and exciting action hero. It's no wonder I like Nightwing so much now. Angst is for self-pitying, joyless assholes.

"I'm just a comic book character who can see the editors. Like that guy over there still groping female underlings."

• There's an epilogue in Watchmen font and style that introduces some event called "Doomsday Clock" coming in November. It has something to do with the Watchmen and Superman and, I'm guessing, Doomsday. It will be terrible but that won't stop fans from already jerking off over it because Geoff Johns name is attached as writer.

Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye #8

Remember this is a metaphor. He's really chasing after his penis.

• Last issue, the reader discovered (by purchasing that comic book and reading it) that The Whisperer (a grotesque reminder of the vaginas that Cave Carson can no longer explore) was demolishing the world. That probably seemed a bit too harsh since this is only a fourth rate comic book and you can't really destroy the world unless Batman or Wonder Woman are in the comic book. So this issue, the reader discovers (by purchasing this comic book and reading it) that Cave Carson and his team have followed The Whisperer through a dimensional portal. So it's destroying the Fawcett City of a different Earth. Whew. That was a close one. My only question now is why do they want to stop it? It's leaving their Earth alone! Let it destroy this Earth where some guy named Michael Pembrook is buried in the plot where Cave Carson's wife is supposed to be buried.

• Oh! Does that mean Cave Carson's wife is still alive on this Earth? Boner City, here Cave comes!

• Cave's old fungus boss's son Paul Has A Douchey Ponytail has decided to use The Whisperer to take over the spelunking markets on all of the Infinite Earths. Unless his business, EBX, is something else (Extreme Butt X-rays?). I think at this point, his business is mind control. That's the best business to get into. You don't need to sell any products. You just tell people to put money in your face.

• Have any of the other DC Comics acknowledged the Infinite Earths yet? Are we not supposed to know they're back even though they were rescued during Convergence. Are we still supposed to believe there are only 52? I mean, even if there were only 52 when Rebirth started, now that Superman has merged with all the Supermen and all the other heroes are beginning to merge with all of their old selves (thanks to Superman's merge, for, um, some reason), I think that means the heroes once again live in an infinite multiverse.

• Even if the previous is true, it probably doesn't matter. This is a Young Animal book. It doesn't necessarily take place in the same continuity as the other DC books. Remember how Vertigo was always separate even though regular heroes sometimes visited it, or were banished to it because they didn't really have anywhere else to go after Crisis on Infinite Earths destroyed their parents and the only job left they could take was that of Fake Sandman?

• Cave runs into an old college professor of his. I mean, not really. It's not the one he knew on his own Earth! It's the one on...I don't really need to explain this, do I?

• Chloe, Cave's daughter, begins making the connections that I made earlier about that guy Michael Pembroke being buried where her mother should be buried. But Cave is all, "Why bother looking for her?! My penis doesn't work, remember?!" And Chloe is all, "Is that all mom is to you? A penis cozy?! Go fuck yourself, dad!" And Cave is all, "You know I can't!" Then he runs sobbing from the room while punching his crotch.

• The Whisperer attacks! I guess it knows better than to let the good guys live. It might not succeed but at least it's being proactive. I was expecting it to say something like, "Let Carson live! It is not his time to die!" That's always the wrong thing for an evil person and/or creature to say.

• Wild Dog almost dies in the attack but Chloe sticks a country tampon in his wound. What's the difference between a country tampon and a city tampon?

• Oh. I spoke too soon. The Whisperer just wanders off after it thinks it's destroyed Cave Carson's vehicles so that he'll be stranded on this destroyed Earth. It's just as dumb as every other antagonist. You must kill heroes. You can't leave them to their fate because their fate is never to die. Their fate is to kick you in the head when you think you've won, stupid.

• At the end of the issue, Cave Carson rallies his troops because they've got a war to fight on infinite fronts!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Odyssey of the Amazons #5

Is this the Player's Handbook for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons?

• Yesterday I received an email that Bloodybastid left this comment on my The Wild Storm #4 commentary: "Your reviews are highly entertaining, has a sarcastic and cynical tone to them. I'm shocked no one has discovered this blog yet. Better than most other comic book blogs I skim through!" When I went to respond, I saw the comment had been deleted by the author. So I went from feeling warm fuzzies to cold pricklies in the matter of seconds. Did Bloodybastid change their mind, realizing my reviews weren't entertaining at all but just childish and full of ignorant commentary? Did they read a second commentary which happened to attack something they loved (like maybe their mother?) so they stormed back to delete the comment and shit all over my brief and unsustainable joy that somebody appreciated something I had done? Maybe — and this makes the most sense — they realized the said my blog was "better than most" and thought, "I misspoke! It's better than all of the other comic book blogs! I'd better delete this before somebody reads my comment and goes off to search for a comic book blog better than this one. That's a rabbit hole without a bottom, for sure!"

• I finally entered the 21st Century! No, I still don't own a smart phone. But I did use a friend's cable account information so I can watch Twin Peaks on Showtime! Apparently I can use the same information to watch Ash vs Evil Dead on Starz and Game of Thrones on HBO Go! It's like I've finally become a real boy!

• I would discuss my thoughts on Twin Peaks but I was only able to watch three of the four episodes that dropped before I had to go to work. And now the Non-Certified Spouse is out of town for a few days, so I won't be able to finish the opening story until then. Watching this has made me realize something. People who describe non-David Lynch vehicles as "Lynchian" probably need to be punched in the genitals and kicked in the head after they've fallen to the ground because their genitals hurt so much. Let's see any other director have the balls to spend a full episode on a dazed protagonist wandering around a casino hitting jackpots on every machine with a tiny Red Room floating over it. Nobody would be saying, "It was so Lynchian!" They would be saying, "What the fuck? That director was given a paycheck for that?!"

• That wasn't a criticism of the episode even if it sounded like it was! It was an example how nobody would ever praise a director for being Lynchian if they actually were being Lynchian. Maybe I've been hearing people wrong all this time! Maybe when a work of art is Lynchian and not by David Lynch, they've actually been saying, "That was lynchian." As in "somebody should be lynched for that."

• Let's see. What else can I discuss that isn't this comic book? The main issue in my life right now is organizing my time so I can start reading more books. I still have a ton of books that I want to read but I always feel that time spent reading is time lost writing. And when I read something that's fantastically written, I quickly stop paying attention to what I'm reading as my mind begins working on the stuff I could be writing. And yet I still want to read a fuckton of shit! It wouldn't be a problem if I could live to be several hundred. Then I could read some books and really wander, really wonder.

• The writing in this book is atrocious. It is of that bent in which the writer attempts to be more eloquent than their ability allows for. Like that sentence I just wrote! It was an example of the thing that was being said. I think there's a word for that but I'm too old to remember what it is, even if I look it up right now. Besides, if I learn a new fact, I might forget a pertinent bit of Batman trivia that could be the deciding question in a bar trivia night.

• Oh, here's an example of the writing, especially in the Narration Boxes, being terrible: "The sweet chirps of singing birds could be heard — the melodic sounds of nature that would herald both the coming dawn." And what? Both the coming dawn and what?! I suppose that example wasn't a good example of the thing I said terribly in the previous bullet point. It was just an annoying mistake that should have been caught in a rewrite or a quick edit. But since nobody caught it, I'm guessing nobody cared enough about this book to rewrite it or edit it. Somebody just sharted it out on paper and said, "Good enough!" I suppose, after the stuff I've put out there on this blog, I should probably respect that.

• Apparently the Amazons have a fight song. It's all "Let us fight and also hug! We are enigmas and shit! Peace through violence is cool but violence through peace is even better, I think! Go team go! Themyscira High School Football Rules!"

• The Amazons escape from the Jotuns. Good thing they did that before they were raped! Oh wait. I forgot. Nobody was raping anybody because that would incur the wrath of readers all over the Internet, or at least the part of the Internet that Tumblr runs on. They weren't raped; they were ensorcelled. Which might sound a bit rapey but I assure you none of their bodies were touched in creepy, pervy, violent ways! Some witch just cast a spell which mixed their DNA with the DNA of the giants and rape babies were formed through magic! And not rape! Stop typing rape, you idiot! That was me typing directly to me because sometimes I don't listen to myself. Also, it'll be a good pull quote for next month!

They didn't violate them in the way you're thinking! I already explained that! And also that image isn't a metaphor for the way they weren't violated earlier! Stop bringing it up already! You're going to put me on Tumblr's List of Most Problematic Gross People!

• I wonder if Tisiphone has gotten a cease and desist letter from Apple's lawyers on the use of her name?

• The Amazons that are still alive escape their Jotun prison and head off to kill the Jotuns. The Jotuns have all gone to Muspell which is some place I would know more about if I'd been more into Norse Mythology than Greek Mythology as a twelve year old. Apparently it's where Surtr lives. I bet Loki stole one of the vowels from his name.

• The dead Amazons also attack the Jotuns. Somehow. I guess they weren't actually wanted in Valhalla because of their, you know, boobies and vaginas.

• During the events of whatever the plot is, there is a lot of dialogue where the women are propping each other up with compliments. They're proving that sisterhood is strong! Also while they're talking, I keep getting glimpses of their underwear! The male gaze is also strong! It has the ability to see past feminist discussions into the heart of what truly matters: how much butt cheek has escaped the speaker's underwear!

• The battle ends with the Amatuns arriving to kill Surtr with his Black Sword. That wasn't a typo. They non-rape spawns of the Jotuns and Amazons (remember! It was sorcery and not penetration that created them!) call themselves Amatuns. Seriously? When Jomazons was sitting right there!

• I have no idea who this book is for. I have asked literally nobody else and they all say the same thing: "This book is not entertaining me at all."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Wild Storm #4

This is the only sexual position I can orgasm in.

• I bet the only way Steve Buccellato can orgasm is when he gets the news he's going to be working with Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt.

• At the end of the last issue, Grifter was in a real pickle. He was about to be blown up by some Black Razor agents hitting their self-destruct buttons. But at the beginning of this issue, he figures out a way to survive!

In the terrible old days, 80% of this page would be covered in Grifter's thoughts.

• You might be thinking, "How did Grifter kill those guys without flipping upside down first?" Okay fine. That's what I'm thinking. I just like to imagine that other people think the same things I think so I feel like I'm part of a community that probably really doesn't want anything to do with me.

• Speaking of the comic book loving community I'm ashamed to be a part of, I received a message about Wonder Woman from a person calling themselves HentaiBorg. Now there's a name that really evokes some boner inducing images! I'm picturing a poster by H.R. Giger if he were attempting to parody an M.C. Escher print of an orgy. Anyway, HentaiBorg had this to say about the Wonder Woman comic book:

I would buy a WonderWoman book with Frank Cho to the art.
Having Cho
at the writing would garanty there would be no feminism in the book,
which would be an improvement but I would prefer a more experienced
Diana need to be rewritten Geoff Johns, bring the characters
back to the core and expand. It worked great on Green Lantern so maybe
there is a chance.

I'm guessing, due to the format, that his comment was supposed to be a poem. It's cute how he thinks a Wonder Woman book could be written without feminism. Either HentaiBorg doesn't understand feminism or he thinks anything that stars a woman who isn't naked or putting a sexy lamp in her butt is feminism. "If a woman in a comic book is seen as an actual person and not as something for me to masturbate to, it's Goddamned feminism! I'm sick of it!" For some reason while writing that, I was hearing it in a Canadian accent. Sorry Canadians!

• Grifter apparently doesn't aim as well as he expected himself to aim while looking as cool as possible because he completely missed the brain of one of the Black Razors he shot in the head. The guy pulls the self-destruct pin to kill them all. But the Wild CATs escape into The Bleed before they blow up. Dammit.

• I probably shouldn't be disappointed that Grifter survived. As I've noted, this Grifter is much better than every other Grifter that has ever appeared in any comic book previously because he keeps his bland thoughts to himself.

• Miles Craven tries to figure out how to stop shitting himself after realizing there might be a Wild Covert Action Team out there going against his interests. Another reason he can't turn off the shit storm (which is probably what this series is named after) is the realization that Henry Bendix is going to see all of the Engineer footage and think, "That piece of shit stole my technology! And he's doing stuff with it in public! Before I could do stuff with it in public! Not that I wanted to do stuff with it in public. But the recognition would be nice, you know?"

• Speaking of Henry Bendix, it turns out about 99% of his public persona is all for show. He'd rather be doing heroin while reading Frank Cho Wonder Woman comic books while sticking his dick in a glory hole that leads to The Bleed. You know, he's that guy! We all know that guy! He's the guy who, after a day at the flea market on LSD, takes you to a cocaine party where they have a piƱate full of sex toys and people hopped up on coke going full paranoid over you because you're happy to sit there people watching on the acid while sipping soda pop. Man. That guy!

Man. I miss having this guy in my life! Too bad my "this guy" was blown up by a bomb in Iraq, nearly died, began suffering from survivor's guilt and PTSD, began watching nothing but FOX News, and became Christian! Now he tells bad jokes whose punch lines all consist of "I've been burned over a large portion of my body! Brazingo!"

• I don't not hang out with my "that guy" anymore because of the things I listed. I don't really interact with him because my general nature — my cynicism and atheism and facetiousness — run counter to healing and well-being. He needs to believe a bunch of things that I'm fairly certain are absolute bullshit and he doesn't need me smirking at everything he says. • I didn't scan the panel where Bendix says "the idiot in the Jump Room was having some kind of crippling technical problem with his vagina" because that makes him sound like me and I'm not the "that guy" I was trying to compare him to. Maybe I love Henry because I see a reflection of myself in him. Maybe...maybe I am other people's "that guy!" Holy shit! I rule!

And the noise! Don't forget the Goddamned noise! The bouncing basketballs and the industrial sized wind chimes and the music played loud enough so that other people can hear it and know the people playing it are cool (the audio version of marking your territory to scare off or impress rivals) and the traffic and the birds, oh the fucking birds! You do know you don't have to chirp and warble all fucking morning, right?!

• Like Rorschach and Lobo, Bendix might be one of those characters that was created to be thoroughly unlikeable but then was embraced and loved by the fans in a way that made the creator throw their hands up in the air and kick a puppy but I love him anyway.

• Because Bendix is so very likeable even though he's probably not supposed to be, Ellis also makes him racist and homophobic. Probably because he knew he was making Bendix way too charming. He needed to make sure people know Bendix is supposed to be the worst and that if they like him (which how could they not after this introduction to his real self?), they're gross and problematic. Well, I guess that's me then! Because Henry is the best!

• Anyway, a few last things happen. Some woman wanders down the freeway on foot. Deathblow or Deadpunch or Dieslap talks about his brain tumor while Miles offers him a job to keep his mind off of dying. And that's about it for what is possibly the most interesting and well-written comic book currently published by DC. It's almost like this is an Image comic book which is ironic since when this was an Image comic book, it also seemed like an Image comic book. What I mean by that is that Image sucked when it began but now it publishes the best stuff. That's because people save their best ideas for the shit they get to own outright. DC and Marvel will never again have truly great stories because nobody is going to offer up the best parts of themselves for contract work. Unless you have so much good writing in you that you can't help but write great stories. You know, like Warren Ellis.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Cerebus in Hell? #4

I thought the last time I reread Cerebus, it would be the actual last time. But I think I need to reread it.

Don't miss the stunning conclusion of Cerebus In Hell? by not buying this issue! You think I'm going to reveal the super twist ending here? That's crazy! But I will scan a bit I really like so you can read it and think, "Wow! I might actually enjoy some of this stuff Dave Sim writes if I wasn't too scared to read Dave Sim's work and have people judge me for liking him because they think he's gross and problematic! I sure wish I were in control of my own life! But what can you do? If you want your peers to not despise you and constantly try to ruin your life for no reason at all except their own inferiority complexes and low self-esteems, you just have to never do anything for which they might judge you harshly!"

Abandon all hope, ye who read this!

All Star Batman #10

The new Robin is a bit rough around the everything.

• What do you have to do to get a Batman story that stops jerking itself off over how great Batman is and begin dealing with his adult healing from a childhood trauma? The guy is fucked up! The Who's Who entries in the DC Universe should include the stat: "Bat-enabler?" Somebody should get him some non-Harleen Quinzel therapy.

• I just sang the Narration Boxes as an operatic dirge to my cat Pelafina. She's purring so I think that's a good review.

• Alfred Pennyworth is narrating this story. He assures us that this Batman story is unlike all of the other Batman stories. Oh good! Just like I wanted in that first bullet point! I can't wait! Although, I mean, Scott Snyder began last issue saying that he wasn't writing a Batman story. And then the big twist at the end was that it was a Batman story. So I'm not holding my breath about this story being any different from all the others.

• This story takes place in London's past which totally doesn't explain the cover at all.

• Scott Snyder has done something few writers ever do! Usually when I like a writer, I like just about everything they do until the day they die tragically. But Scott Snyder has gone from writer I thought was terrific to shitty hack with pretentious underpinnings. Here's how he begins this story: "[This story is] different from the rest. Of course, it starts the way the others do. The angry young man, far from Wayne Manor. Lost. And like the others, it's a mystery — a detective story about the distance between the boy he was then and the man he is today." Well, thanks, Scott! I'm glad you informed me early that this story isn't like all the other stupid comic books because this one is smart and has a theme and shit! And knowing comic book readers are stupid fucks who are only hoping to see Batman punch somebody in the face, it's a good thing you're letting us know up front that this story is better than that! I'm sure I would have completely missed all of the smarty pants stuff you were up to if you didn't clue me in. Although, I'm suspicious now. You got me trying to think about why the last story wasn't a Batman story only to end with "Surprise! It's a Batman story!" So why should I think you've put any more work into making this story different? I think maybe you just tell people at the beginning how smart and different your stories are so that you don't actually have to make them smart and different!

• This story also takes place in Miami's present which probably explains the cover completely.

• Something called the Genesis Engine is being auctioned off on the black market. Batman probably wants to get it for himself so he can make billions of dollars with it.

• A bunch of shit goes wrong when Bruce meets with the dealer. Bruce finds the dealer dead in a manner that reminds Alfred of his youth when he used to graffiti a symbol all over London. That's when Alfred explains to the reader that this mystery isn't about Bruce at all. It's about Alfred.

• In other words, last story actually was a Batman story. But this story actually isn't a Batman story. So it really is different than other Batman stories being that it isn't a Batman story at all. But Scott Snyder couldn't have begun two issues in a row saying "This is not a Batman story," right?

• This story didn't have any alligators or crocodiles in it. I guess Alfred and Batman killing animals in a swamp will happen next issue.

• This story was much better than the last nine issues of this comic book. Except maybe for the part where they explain the name of the place where the guy selling the Genesis Engine lives. That's pure Snyder! He over-complicates things to give a vaguely Umberto Eco-ish atmosphere. So the place is Latin for a right because the thief was crucified to the right of Jesus and the guy who runs auctions out of the place is a thief who is descended from pirates and only works with other people descended from pirates. For being a whole pirate theme, it's weird that Snyder decides to start with the Latin and the Jesus and the thief stuff. I mean, the only way they really tie in is that pirates steal things. Oh but the atmosphere it creates! So mysteriously esoteric!