Thursday, March 9, 2017

Detective Comics #952

The Bat Gang versus an army of Talons! I mean shadow ninjas!

Are we really still a society that is fascinated with giant apes? I feel like the 20th Century was America going through its twelve year old boy phase. We were into rockets and giant monsters crushing cities. The seventies and eighties were the discovery of boner magazines. The nineties were like a full decade spent hyped up on sugared cereal while watching Saturday morning cartoons. And then we hit the 21st Century and things had to change. Nobody wants to keep on being a twelve year old boy forever. But we were totally into playing soldier at that time, so we couldn't change yet! Just one more decade, mom! I felt like maybe we were growing once Obama became president (well, some of us. One particular ideological political group insists on remaining twelve year old boys. It sucks they're in charge now). I thought maybe we were going to mature into a woman that just turned twenty-one. Oh, sure! There are some issues that go along with that too! But at least we wouldn't be obsessed with boobies and monsters and war and giant apes, right?


I really don't get the fucking appeal of King Kong. Maybe Hollywood really is just a seer's crystal ball spamming portents of the future into the minds of the masses. This is just proof that the twelve year old boys are back in control and we're all fucked.

This reminds me. I should probably send out letters of apology to everybody who knew me when I was twelve. I don't know how I wasn't just slapped across the face constantly.

Yesterday, I experienced two moments that brought me unbridled joy. I heard Ookla the Mok's song "Viewmaster" for the first time. And then while walking back from the store (where I'd heard the song on my Shuffle), I watched as three crows followed the mailman from house to house to house down the block. I fucking love crows. But because they're birds, I often forget and leave them out of my lists of favorite animals. I usually just say cats, goats, and raccoons. Poor little corvids always get left out.

The Review!
For any fangenders wondering how powerful the League of Shadows are, they can stop wondering because James Tynion IV opens this comic with proof of how bad-ass they are. Not that it was needed. If you're a comic book reader, you know how it works. The current threat is always the most dangerous threat ever to be faced ever and will only be out-threated by next month's threat. It's why comic book story lines have escalated into this untenable place where every fucking conflict has the fate of all reality at stake. Okay, maybe it's not always that great. I mean, this is a Batman comic book so things need to remain a little more at street level. What Tynion does to prove the League of Shadows are a threat like no other the Batman has ever faced (aside from the Court of Owls but you should forget about them because they were New 52 and this is Rebirth and, anyway, they're nothing at all like the League of Shadows!) is to have Ra's al Ghul track down Shiva and practically beg her to keep her League from killing his League. But she's all, "No way, French name that rhymes with Jose because we're in France!" So Ra's attacks her with a small army.

Now, you might be thinking, "Whoa! That is bad-ass! Even Ra's's League of Assassins can't beat the League of Shadows!" But if you are, you've jumped the gun! Because that isn't the part that proves how dangerous Shiva's League is. It's the page after the small army attacks Shiva!

Holy shit! She defeated the small army in ten seconds! Whoa!

Oh, also, Cassie is Shiva's daughter. I'm not sure if we were already supposed to know that or not. It's news to me! But then the story could point out that Tim Drake died recently and I'd be all, "Oh? Did he? I really wasn't wondering at all or caring about where he got off to."

Back to the present where the Bat Gang have been ambushed by League of Shadows Sleeper Agents, Tynion reminds everybody that Cassie Cain is the baddest ass motherfucking bad ass ever ever. Even badder assier than Shiva (whom, if you remember from a few seconds ago, he just showed was a complete bad ass!). I'm using the phrase "bad ass" so much that I might be overdoing it. I'm certainly not being consistent with it being hyphenated or not.

Cassie defeats most of the Sleeper Agents in one panel. She also knows that she's being watched. People know that's not a thing, right? You can't actually feel being watched. You can notice out of the periphery of your vision that it looks like somebody is staring at you but that's not the feeling of being watched. That's noticing somebody is fucking watching you. The "feeling of being watched" is a feeling that exists not because somebody is watching you but because you're fucking paranoid. And if you look up and around and make eye contact with somebody (who noticed you looking around and so glanced over), you feel vindicated in your paranoid feeling. Oh, but this is comic books! In comic books, you can totally feel you're being watched otherwise heroes often wouldn't be able to advance the plot. They'd just beat up all of these Sleeper Agents, dust off their hands, and say, "Well! That's that! Good work, everybody! Let's end this adventure and go home." Then the reader would be all, "Why is this comic book seventeen pages of ads?"

Cassie might be doing okay because she's the best that ever was, having been born and bread into killing. But the rest of the Bat Gang are having trouble, what with being stabbed in the back and in the front even.

Don't worry! None of these people will die from these wounds! Although if they do, not Batman's fault! They should have found better doctors. And even if the medical bills bankrupt them and the only way to continue to exist is to continue a life of crime and they die trying to get out from under their medical bills by any means, still not Batman's fault. And it's not like it's Batman's fault if they die from an infection since he sterilizes all of his batarangs before sticking them into the chests of criminals. If they die from an infection, it's their own fault for wearing grimy clothing.

While Clayface turns into a bunch of Clayfaces to defeat the League of Shadow Ninja Sleeper Agents, Cassandra Cain sneaks up on Shiva. That's another bit to bolster Cassandra's reputation. But just in case the reader is too dumb to understand what it means (being that the reader is a comic book reader and probably of below average intelligence), Shiva says, "Nobody sneaks up on me." I don't think she means that in an offended way like "How dare you sneak up on me?!" I think she means it literally.

Shiva and Cassie fight for a bit until Shiva grabs her by the throat and does that thing where a comic book character mentions something they shouldn't know about but obviously do because they're so remarkable. Shiva is all, "I know you see the hits!" Meaning she knows how every time the reader sees an assailant from Cassie's perspective, they have little hit boxes around their most vulnerable places. So Shiva is all, "I know you see the hits!" As opposed to just saying something like, "You aren't hitting me in places that would actually hurt and possibly kill me. Why are you holding back?" No. She says, "I know you see the hits. You see each of them, don't you?" Because that's the way Cassie's vision is shown to explain it to readers, Shiva expresses it in the same way.

Whatever. What do I care?! This is the kind of thing that is written in a way that completely annoys me at the most superficial level. But it's the type of thing that, when you complain about it, fangenders will argue around the actual thing being said to explain how it makes sense. Like I just did. We allow it because we understand the bottom line. We understand what is meant by this. Shiva fights Cassie and realizes Cassie is holding back. But I don't care that we, as readers, can become lawyers for the writing so that we ultimately understand it. I still think the writing shouldn't be a fucking barrier to me enjoying the comic.

But never mind all that! That's hardly a complaint at all, really! My real complaint is that this is another fucking comic book dealing with killing versus not killing. I'm so sick of that philosophical debate being the backbone for so many fucking stories. It's practically 90% of the television show Arrow (the other 10% is Oliver fucking every female character on the show because why else would a female be part of his world if he wasn't fucking her?). It keeps cropping up in The Flash TV show too, even though Barry is the least likely person in the DC Universe to kill somebody. He's such a putz! And the stink of the constant and never ending philosophical debate is all over nearly every comic book in the DC Universe. Now we've got Cassie Cain trying not to kill anymore (mostly because she feels bad about killing Spoiler's mom and because Batman won't ever hug her again if she kills) but her mother, Shiva, is all, "You're pathetic! Killing is the best!" Anyway, I guess I get to read more of this shit in this Court of Owls story. I mean League of Shadows story!

Batman comes to the rescue after Shiva gives Cassie the Five Fingers of Death (which isn't as sexy and incestuous as you're definitely thinking it is). It's a move that gives Cassie thirty seconds before she dies. I know that move! I also know a move which gives the victim one week before they die but I need a VHS tape to pull that one off.

This is another great way to make a character more powerful than the reader remembers. Just pretend they always lost on purpose in the past. Now Shiva is suddenly Batman's greatest foe and he didn't even know it! Surprise!

Shiva tells Batman she could kill him but she doesn't because she must be weak. I thought killing was good, Shiva! Later, when you think back on how Batman kicked your ass and destroyed your League of Shadows, you're going to regret not killing him! Just like superheroes constantly regret not killing villains and then I have to read another fucking story about whether or not they should kill! If you're into killing, you should fucking kill, dum-dum.

When the League of Shadows disappears in the proverbial smoke bomb, Batwing and Azrael go with them. Oh darn. Too bad. I'm so upset.

Could you tell by my punctuation and short, terse sentences that I wasn't really upset at all?!

Oh, meanwhile? The Gotham City Police want Batman's head for the murder of Mayor Hady. So that's another cliché Tynion is forcing down my throat. No, I say, no! I don't want this! I don't consent to another story about how a hero is framed and turned into the enemy because the police are ignorant barbarians who are easily manipulated into hate and violence. We have enough of that in the real world.

Later, Cassie gets a hug from Batman. That should make everything better.

The Ranking!
-1! Too many clichés for my tastes. And I generally love them!

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