Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Convergence: Shadow of the Bat #1

I'm glad they throw that "Batman" above the "Shadow of the Bat" title. I wouldn't want to accidentally buy a Man-Bat comic book.

Judging by the covers of the Convergence comic books for this week, the main city being focused on will be Post-Crisis or Pre-Zero Hour or Post-Zero Hour Metropolis. I guessed Metropolis simply because this week has Superboy, Supergirl, and Steel. But this cover kind of gives it away anyway with Batman Azrael jumping past the Daily Planet.

I guess with one of the comics being "Green Lantern/Parallax," I should have firmed up my vote for Pre-Zero Hour. But even though there's about ten years between Crisis and Zero Hour, Post-Crisis and Pre-Zero Hour are still kind of the same chunk of the DC Universe, you know?

Oh boy! The original WildC.A.T.s! I hope all of the writers remembered to give them horrible dialogue and all of the artists remembered to draw too many lines and pouches on them! And I think all of them should have at least one shiny or scarred or eyepatch-covered eye! Maybe that was just the X-men when Liefeld was drawing it. Or am I thinking about X-factor? Does it matter as long as there is an "X" at the front of it?

Let me get this straight, Narrator. A place doesn't begin to truly exist until it's been gentrified? I think some people might call it an ending too. And even though you've covered your ass by mentioning its a warehouse district that's been gentrified and not a lower economic district, that's still an ending to a lot of people because why do you think an area gets gentrified? Sure, low property value. But you also need buzz, incentive, and word of mouth to get people to move to the area. So my guess is that these "warehouses" were being used as cheap lofts for artists and a thriving art scene was beginning in this area. And then developers got cartoon money signs in their eyes and the artists were gone soon after. And now it's just a shallow, hollow representation of something that had previously had a real community and a soul.

Currently on the edge of Metropolis where everything is ending, Bruce Wayne is being threatened by Tobias Whale. He's Wilson Fisk's uglier, more bloatedly corpselike cousin. Tobias leaves Bruce to be beaten by his henchman, Johnny New Guy. I guess Johnny New Guy needs a nickname so they're going to see how he tortures Bruce Wayne to see what might stick. Johnny Popsicle Stick? Johnny Toothy Blow Job? Johnny Aggressive Rim Job? Easily Bribed Johnny?

Turns out he already has a nickname: Azrael! Ugh! I hope he gets killed before he has a chance to continue to exist in the DC Universe. He always reminded me of Cousin Oliver from The Brady Bunch. I just wanted to stick a javelin up Oliver's ass and post him on the front lawn as a warning to future television show writers. I'm not going to defend The Brady Bunch as a powerhouse landmark television show but who the fuck decided the show was more interesting by introducing an annoying little albino troll into it? Staked right next to Cousin Oliver would be Andy from Family Ties and Olivia from The Cosby Show (although she might have used her psychic powers to see me coming and gotten away). Apparently introducing a small child into a series works or else why keep doing it? I guess there's a television watching demographic that only watches shows with totally adorable children in them OH MY GOD they say the cutest scripted things!

Oh! Maybe I should get a cute kid mascot for my site! I wonder if my niece Kameila would take the gig?

Bruce Wayne wants to team up with Val-Jean-Paul Saint Whatever but Azrael is worried that Batman won't let him kill if it comes down to it. Oh, don't worry about that, Jean-Paul! As long as Batman tells you he disapproves of killing and forbids you to kill, you can still kill when the time for killing comes around. As long as Batman doesn't get his hands bloody directly, he's pretty much okay with it. He might give you all kinds of stink eye about it but what's he going to do? Kill you?

Jean-Paul agrees to work with Bruce Wayne and then beats the shit out of him anyway. For, as Bruce puts it, "verisimilitude"! That should be my constant status: "Grunion Guy is feeling verisimilitudinous!" So Jean-Paul beats him down and earns the nickname Johnny "Careful Not To Hurt A Guy's Spine."

Did Larry Hama just get a thesaurus for Easter?

Maybe he would have been better off with a style guide.

I know I'm not winning any editorial awards for my use of punctuation but that's part of the Grunion Guy style (like overusing parenthetical references (and eschewing em dashes (and not knowing how to use regular dashes (or periods (or all the punctuation, actually))))). But a double period?! Even for comedic effect, I would never journey into that heart of darkness! I know one rule and by God I will never break that one rule! Even right now when it would make me laugh by ending this sentence with a double period.

I hope some of you got the double period joke at the end of that last sentence!

Tobias Whale wants Bruce to prove himself by using his political influence to find out the route the food convoy will take for its next delivery. Bruce Wayne agrees and heads off to use his political influence on Erasmus Hall.

Or he'll just stand around as Val-Jean threatens the man for the information.

I just realized I have as much political influence as Bruce Wayne! I can also stand in the background as somebody else threatens a politician to do what they want! Yay for the machinations of politics! I wish somebody had gotten me a thesaurus for Easter so I can know if I used "machinations" right! Maybe I should have stuck with my original line, "the cyborgs of politics!"

Holy shit! Don't mention cake in front of Tobias! Not in this post-cake climate!

Tobias is happy that they now know the route but he's worried that Erasmus Hall will get a "pang of conscience" and go back on his deal. So he does the typical thing that mobsters do to make sure somebody working for them isn't a cop: they ask the guy to kill somebody for them. Tobias Whale isn't a very good mobster. Didn't he just bring Bruce Wayne on to use Bruce's political influence? Shouldn't he trust that Bruce Wayne's political influence (we all understand that every time I type "political influence," I actually mean "money," right?) has placed Erasmus Hall in their pocket? If he's just going to threaten and kill politicians, why the fuck does he need Bruce Wayne? I think The Whale is just toying with Bruce and Val-Jean-Jean-Val.

It turns out Whale already had his goons throw Erasmus off of a building after Bruce and Johnny-Paul's meeting. It's all over the news which is playing in the background of their mobster meeting because this is a comic book. Rule One of comic books is that a television set must always be nearby tuned to the local news.

This is an absolutely fair representation of the media. "Your husband is dead, miss! How does that make you feel? What's your daughter crying for? Is she sad at the bloody passing of her father?"

I know that what I'm doing doesn't mean anything and it isn't making the world a better place. But it isn't actively making the world a worse place either (unless you're Scott Lobdell's mother and then I'm truly sorry, ma'am, that your son is so awful at writing that it turns me into the werewolf version of my usual cheery, comic book reviewing self). But television reporters generally can't say that. They intrude on people's lives in a desperate attempt to get more viewers and more fame and more recognition and more money for their outlet. And what truly drives me crazy? They think they're doing the country or state or local community a service. And they truly think everybody is dying to get interviewed by them and appear on local television. Which is why I love that "Fuck her right in the pussy" guy because he shits all over their pretentious bullshit. Newscasters get so fucking offended when somebody doesn't take their on the street reporting seriously.

Come on, Grunion Guy! Pull back on the throttle! That's it! That's it! Whew. Recovered! Talking about "journalism" or "media" or "local news" always sends me into a tailspin from which I seldom recover and wind up writing the same rant over and over again. How many times do I need to bitch about the state of news media and journalism? I suppose I wouldn't care so much if they realized they're not doing anything but trying to make money. It's the attitude that they think they're needed that irks the fuck out of me. That boring ass BBC chap on PBS is about the only newsperson I can watch without completely freaking the fuck out and scaring the cat.

Larry Hama. Enough! Give me that thesaurus right now!

I'm beginning to think maybe Larry Hama had a crazy mother that told him to "get thee to an OED!"

For being the World's Greatest Detective, maybe Bruce needs to do a little soul detecting on himself. He thinks he's Bruce Wayne and not The Batman? Laughable! And sad! He just sounds like that girl that protests too much in that Charlie Brown Christmas Special. I think it was Peppermint Patty?

Batman and Azrael are waiting to stop Tobias's hijacking of the food convoy. Azrael leaps off the building when the trucks arrive while Batman carefully takes the stairs.

This is the denouement? When did I miss the climax?! Also, I didn't realize Road Warrior was an hour and a half of denouement!

Batman is going to kick himself for having that nagging broken back because a lot of innocent people die while he's taking the stairs. The Whale's plan was to kill the convoy's protection and then kill the drivers of the trucks. After that, his team would hook the trucks up to tow trucks to haul them away. I don't like that plan. He should have hired some helicopters with gigantic magnets underneath to catch the trucks and fly them back to his compound!

That's "another think coming," lady. I guess Larry Hama didn't get a book of sayings to go along with the thesaurus and the OED.

I know people say "another thing coming" so much that it's basically the accepted version of the saying now. Even Judas Priest got it wrong and we know how scholarly they usually attempt to be in their lyrics. The other saying I can't help but mention when I pedantically correct somebody getting this one wrong is the "music soothes the savage beast" line. It's breast. "Soothe the savage breast." Lesson ended! Mic not dropped because nobody actually fucking cares about this petty shit. Fuck, even I don't really care! Say whatever you want! What do I care? In another ten years, I probably won't even be able to communicate with the next generation!

Batman confronts Tobias Whale and I'm pretty sure there's some Moby Dick references here but I wouldn't know having never read it. I think it's about a white whale who is drinking buddies with a guy named Ahab who rides around on a gay luxury liner making outfits out of whale dick skin.

Dammit, Bruce! You should have said, "I'm tired of your repartee, so I'm going to end your partay!" Plus I would have gone with the "BLAMMO!" sound effect.

While Whale is busy getting punched in the face, he's also busy watching Azrael kill his henchmen. That way he can say to Batman, "You're practically a murderer because you're teamed up with a murderer! In your face!" And Batman is all, "Eww! Why I'll...actually, I don't care. None of my business if other vigilantes are murderers. As long as they kill people who have, at least, just slightly broken the law. Those miscreants deserve it!"

The next big battle is Batman trying to talk Val-Jean out of murdering the last of The Whale's henchmen. She head butts Azrael's helmet and screams, "Butt out, Bat-creep." That, apparently, is too much for Azrael and now he just has to murder her. How can he not? If he doesn't kill her now, the terrorists win. Plus if he lets her live, he might be sent into an existential quandary which will cause him to start singing "Who Am I?"

Planet Brainiac decides it would be a good time to explain the rules of the upcoming contest. Batman wants to try to stop the battle from happening but Azrael just wants an excuse to punch things in the face and then to put a bullet in that face too. They don't know it yet but their opponents are two WildC.A.T.s, Jester and Pilgrim. They have metal chins and sketchy appearances. Pilgrim can "time-slip" because she's probably named after Billy Pilgrim which is like totally smart and shit. You know it's super smart because even that kid in that movie about football, Varsity Blues, was reading Slaughterhouse Five which totally showed how his character was smart and shit. The other WildC.A.T. is named "Jester" because he either pilots jets or says brutally truthful things to people without fear of reprisal.

One more opponent will apparently appear next issue because reality shifts right at the end of the comic book in such a way that even Batman can feel it even though I don't know where he developed his "reality shift detection training." I bet it's Pariah! Or Kingdom Come Spectre! Those are my only two guesses because I can't remember enough about Crisis and Kingdom Come to make any others. I can name characters and seem like I remember stuff though! Lady Quark! Harbinger! Magog!

Convergence: Shadow of the Bat #1 Rating: The art in this issue was that weird kind of sort of realistic art that doesn't quite do it for me kind of art, you know? And the story was that kind of recycled undercover infiltration kind of story that's kind of tired and overdone, right? And it didn't even need to be in this! It's almost as if Larry Hama decided a few pages in that the undercover shit wasn't really going anywhere so he just put the heroes in costumes and let them go toe to toe with The Whale. Although since the WildC.A.T.s time-slipped, maybe their knowledge of the undercover personas of Bruce Wayne and Jean Val-Jean will come into play next issue. I would find that acceptable! Since I have nothing left to say about this comic book, here is a cartoon about some bats that live the Batman philosophy of life.


  1. Quick corrections. Those aren't members of the WildC.A.T.S. they're facing. Wetworks.
    Should be a quick fight nonetheless, but yeah, wrong team.

    So the Wildstorm universe is being represented but is labled as San Diego, Californina? Goddamn man, did Jim Lee ask for that?

  2. I don't know anything about Wildstorm unless it has The Authority and Warren Ellis on the cover. I just assumed "wetworks" was being used in the non-capitalized way, non-team name way!

    Well, all the universes are basically being represented by one specific city and then DC is just writing excuses for all the heroes being in that city on the day it was Domed. So Wildstorm got the treatment with San Diego. They don't always get more explanation like "Pre-Zero Hour Metropolis." Like Electropolis represents "Earth-6 Pre-Crisis Electropolis" but you don't get that much explanation.

  3. Ah, gotcha;)

    True, and it's not like DC would acknowledge Wildstorm habing their own world and shit, so yeah, nice to see they get stuck with San Diego. I'm sure the residents of San Diego are grateful for the shout out. Not!