Batman Inc. Robin in Pieces

Advance spoiler alert: A spoiler alert is coming up next.

Spoiler alert: This post contains massive spoilers for Batman Inc. 8, every comic book related website, Grant Morrison’s mouth, Chris Burnham’s face and some editions of the New York Post.

Robin 1

Batman Inc 8 is fantastic pictures mixed with brilliant, affecting words both tattooed indelibly on to a fascinating folding material they tell me is made from tree.

Batman Inc 8 is also awe-inspiring. It feels like I need to use the actual meaning of the word rather than lumping it in with everything else by calling it simply ‘Awesome’, a superlative so overused that I’ve heard children describing tables with it.

Forget the rhetoric, forget the spoilers, Batman Inc 8 is good comics right here.

I’ve been skirting round the headline long enough, let’s get to it:

Grant Morrison is an absolute bastard.

Robin 2

I don’t care if you’re one of the people who thinks none of his comics make sense or you worship every pen he’s ever touched, we can all agree right now that the man is an utter arsehole.  I just want to weaken him emotionally and physically then toss him into an unescapable death trap before tottering off to murder his child*.

The bald twat deserves it.

So Grant Morrison and Master pencil man Chris Burnham slaughtered Damian Wayne. They slaughtered him and willfully told everyone about it. They chopped down a child in his prime and laughed glibly as emotionally confused people all round the world clutched at their faces and attempted to mourn the loss of the young Robin.

Man it hurt.

What’s worse is you knew it was coming.

Robin 3

Old Daddy Morrison has been building to this for ages, from the moment he introduced young Damian in fact. It’s been quite well documented that he should have only been with us for four issues. However the character was allowed to stay too long and over the course of the last few years I’ve fallen for Damian Wayne. He’s a shit granted, but he was my shit. Damian was the beating heart of  Morrison’s uber-story for me, the through line pulling all of the story beats together and the emotional centre of all the 4 colour punching.  It’s only natural that as Morrison finishes his run and begins to pack his toys away Robin would be one of the first to go. I just wish it didn’t hurt so much or feel so…unjust.

A tiny part of me believes that Burnham and Grant are pulling a double bluff and Damian will be alive and well by books end but that’s the part of me that still thinks the shadow banking system is a good idea.

The last ride of Damian Wayne is captured in glorious pop art high energy techni-colour by Monsiour Chris Burhnam and every single inch of it seems stolen from the heavens. His figures are cartoony but filled with expression and I can do nothing but compliment both his panel layouts and acting.  Sublime work. Just look at the final team up between Dick and Damian, it’s hard to punch the air when you’re crying but this page made me do just that.

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Batman Inc is both an affecting work of emotion and a 24 page fight sequence. It draws to a close a significant chapter in the life of Batman Inc and sends us rushing face first into the next one. If you haven’t been reading this book, get caught up now.

*No I won’t, I will stab him in the face though.

We’re Back!

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We’ve been gone for a few months. We know you missed us. But we’re back now to blow the legs of off the comics industry once and for all.

The Multiverse is saved!

It didn’t need a post, but felt like an announcement.

God I’m in love with the Zaucer of Zilk

Zaucer of Zilk is what happens when colours fuck.

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Zaucer of Zilk is cod-eyed husky old spice style 12 colour sexuality.

Zaucer of Zilk is intrepid invention in colour.

Zaucer of Zilk is pure rainbow flavoured candy gash.

Look at it.

Look at it and weep. Weep with your eyes which must now, for your safety, be covered in tiny eye bras to try to hide them from the sexy. Eye bras which you are still peeking through even though you know it’s bad for you.

Zaucer of  Zilk is like suffering a hate crime, colour is gunning for you and it is going to smash you in the face until you realise you’ve missed it. It instantly hit me: All other comics are rendered in gray.  Spectacle and colour rampage through these pages, instantly rendering all other books in the read pile as dull and unnecessary. I swear McCarthy has access to colours that nobody else has ever seen, colours given to him by the old colour god, the one before ‘Urban’.

Zaucer of Zilk is a comic that, every time you secretly read it, you are tacitly admitting that your  mother and her silly womb are drab. That your digitalis retina display 30 mega pixel trainers complete with radio Tunisia crabbed laces are drab. That Stickel-men and beef dads dancing in an afghan covered velodrome are drab. THAT EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER KNOWN AND LOVED SUCK DRAB BALLS COMPARED TO THIS.

Zaucer of Zilk is a transportation device. While at home in Littlehope you come across a comic book shop amidst the grey. Inside are spinner racks lined with grey, dull and cream in various combinations. But there is one book bursting with bright, one book itching to paint on you. Grab that bright looking comic from its place on the rack and run home with it, run with the forbidden love of a man and some paper! Quick! Don’t stop till you’re home safe with your golden ticket, your ticket to Zilk. Then watch as young Zaucer does the same,  from his beginning in Littlehope to his snatch of a trinket.  But his gaudy trinket is a sweet, a sweet that transports to Zilk. Now ask your self, have you missed your homeland?

Welcome to the recursive.

The comics of the year 2012 have failed to prepare you for the Zaucer of Zilk.

The Zaucer, (young, famous & be-loved like the shiny-est knife in the drawer).  Lives a Justin Beeber style existence, punctuated with magic power struggles against his  evil opposite/dark self  Errol Raine and his cousin the Zultun of Zilk. We follow as Mr. Never-age is propelled through dimensions on the quest to save his friends, dimensions filled with consumer teeth and the squawk of the Royal Paps.

The Zaucer of Zilk is about nothing. Power struggles between a Zaucer and a Zultan? Fie say I! and fiddle-dee-dee, take this gaudy book from me. It’s flavoured in nothingness, about nothing and nowt. Sticky with throw away juice, it must be removed,  like a practical candy or grout.

But Shhhh, look again,  secretly yonder Zaucer is everything. In vs Out. Young vs Old.  Sad vs Happy.  All smash faced concept battles and the pain of illiterative metaphor. Not the fare of the monthly Spiderbook sir, no Sour Apple Delights for us!

A man, a dog thing, a helicopter girl and 2+2 are going to teach you everything. All from the comfort of a tea-pot/tank and you will love it.

zaucer of zilk

Zaucer of Zilk is by Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing.

Go and buy this book now.

Speech Bubbles: Doc Ock

Double Fisted Review: Planetary

Planetary is is evolutionary. Planetary is cyclical. Planetary is like having sex with a Higgs Boson particle. Planetary is like carving E=MC2 into fresh snow with a laser wristwatch. Planetary is science. Planetary is culture. Planetary is leftield, alternative futurespace, mainstream pop. Planetary is fucking brilliant!

If you think about the seminal Warren Ellis series ‘Planetary’ as a hairdryer this might make more sense. When I first turned the hairdryer on (opened Planetary) I felt a cold rush of air hit the back of my head and slowly traverse my scalp as it maneuvered through my follicles, gently kissed my moles and spread across the entirety of my dome as a raw egg like bacteria made from one simple blast of ambient air. This was thrilling enough but then as the the coils of nichrome wire heated due to their high electric resistivity (I read more of Planetary) I felt the curious sensation of increased activity in my epicranial aponeurosis layer of skin causing my brain to fire excitedly as the warm gusts of air (new Planetary issues) insulated my grey matter like a wooly hat but without actually wearing a hat. As the hair drying continued I realised that not only was my head warm (I’d enjoyed myself) but also that the experience had accelerated and controlled the formation of temporary hydrogen bonds inside each strand of my hair (I’d learnt stuff too) and I could now style my hair in any number of ways (my entire worldview had changed). I switched the hairdryer off and left my house with a wonderful head of hair (I was generally thrilled after reading Planetary) and knew that everytime I used that hairdryer I could find something different to do with my hair (subsequent reads are more rewarding than before).

Did that make sense? I hope it did because it took me a lot of attempts to get it right and I’ve actually burnt my scalp now after playing with a hairdryer all morning! It’s worth it though, Planetary is the best comic book series I’ve read, ever. Bold statement I know but it is. It’s as enjoyable as ‘Transmetropolitan’, more meta than Kurt Vonnegut, as exciting as ‘Y:The Last Man’, with richer characters than ‘Watchmen’ and more culture references, homages and sci-fi action than ‘The Invisibles’ & Tarantino put together. In short it’s nothing less than genius. I don’t want to talk about plot-lines, characters or anything that happens because it’s like those Indie films that you need to watch with literally no prior knowledge of it so you leave the cinema with a face like Moses after seeing the burning bush, literally godsmacked. I think it’s the perineum (gooch) of comics, it’s not something you’ve thought about before and it’s mixed in with all the other analogy comics and superhero fiction so you think it’s just part of your undercarriage but when you find it and begin to understand it… WOW!

I know this might not be the most in depth review and more of a plea for people to read this incredible series but think of it like ‘Fight Club’ or ‘Breaking Bad’ when someone hadn’t seen it, you just say I can’t say anything until you’ve seen it and you just give a brief overview and keep repeating “Oh my goodness you must watch it!”. It’s about some kick ass archaeologists (that’s right superhero archaeologists!) who just happen to have some of the coolest superpowers in modern comics and it’s drawn exquisitely so that every panel on every page is like a frame from a portmanteau film directed by Jack Kirby, Alfred Hitchcock, Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubrick, Terry Gilliam & Guillermo Del Toro. “Oh my fuckness you MUST read it!”. If you like comics then I think I’ve made my point, if you haven’t read all 4 glorious issues of this book already then go the fuck out and buy it. If you have read it then I’m sure you’ll agree with me (if not I want to hear your invalid opinion in the comments below) that all in all…

Planetary is just really rather good.

Double Fisted Reviews: Warren Ellis 2: Dude hates super people

THE AVATAR TRILOGY

This time in Double Fisted reviews we’re smacking round the Avatar Trilogy. Three thematically linked books concerning the superhuman. Who will come out on top and who will end lying face down in their own blood a disfigured erupted mess? Stay tuned bitches!

Today’s ratings will come in the form of times I would cry on the book out of ten.

Black Summer was about superhumans who were too human.  No Hero was about superhumans who were inhuman. Supergod is about superhumans who are no longer human at all, but something different.”

Warren Ellis

So there you have it, analysis of the books from the man himself, nothing left for me to say is there? It’s the opposite of Lynch isn’t it? “Don’t analyse my books, I’ll tell you what they are all about. It all comes back to ESSEX!! LEE ON SEEEEEEEEAAAA!!!”

Read on…

Black Summer 0-7

Ellis/Ryp

John Horus, the super muck muck, has killed the president! Not just any president, no siree. Not some fictional, apolitical drawn in the likeness of Tommy Lee Jones president stand-in, no siree. This is George W.hen can I invade a country Fuckface? Bush, all smashed up. The man who bathes in illegitimate oil laughing while he watches Modern Family ending up as nothing more than bloodstains on an otherwise pristine white coat, yes siree, a pristine white coat…

“We were supposed to be heroes” 

And that’s just issue 0. 

The Seven Guns – a team of body enhanced superhero scientists, discover that one of their own has killed the president at the same time as the rest of the country, regardless they find themselves being hunted down like dogs by the entire USArmy…

Ellis is right about these guys being too human, everybody’s always moaning and bickering, like becoming machine enhanced makes you act like a teenager who didn’t get Lady Gaga tickets ALL THE TIME.

(dramatic reconstruction of dialogue in Black Summer)

Old Friend 1: Hi!

Old Friend 2: Fuck you.

The quote from Ellis above is really talking about two things, two things which escalate and move through different stages in each of the books:

  1. The level of transformation undergone by the ‘Heroes’. For The Seven Guns this is minimal, each of them having enhanced elements of themselves via implants, leaving them mainly human. Having a Chinese hand doesn’t make you Chinese, yeah? So actions and reactions are all based in emotional states. Tom Noir is a prime example of this, after the death of his girlfriend and the loss of his leg, overcome with emotion, he quits the group and turns off his enhancements. The rest of the group keeps going and use their tech more and more leading to them becoming less human and a bit messy in the meatspace: They never switch them off/they’ve lost it.
  2. Good and evil: The Seven Guns are still inherently trying to do good, albeit in a mad robot with guns for eyes screaming at people in tescos kind of way and most of the major actions in the book stem from that. Horus kills the president because he believes him to be evil, the big fight between the Guns and the army happens because they are trying to save a team-mate and the ending (which I won’t spoil) is the only action that can bring about a ‘good’ resolution.

Ryp’s art is fantastic – reminded me of Darrow instantly, with the hyper violence and the buckets of blood that end up on everything,just check out the covers. The panels are inherently kinetic but the figures are stockier, like a little bit of Quitely was thrown in for good measure.

Verdict: I would cry on this book SIX times!!

No Hero 0-7

Ellis/Ryp

How badly do you want to be a superhero? That’s one of the central questions running through No Hero. The other is: what do you do if you’ve named your super team after one of the worst bands in history? The answer to that is, you keep changing it. They just don’t seem to be able to come up with a good one at all. Sad face.

No Hero tells the story of Josh Carver’s entry into supergroup The Levellers or The Front Line or Gas Mask Super Guys or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. With members of the group getting smashed down, blown up and generally taken apart by something menacing with increasing regularity, Carrick Masterson calls for a replacement. What he gets is a straight edge, determined vigilante, a man whose entire purpose is to join a super team and change the world, a man whose utter desperation to join the group is his only discernible trait, that and his shit face.

After being inducted into the group, Josh is turned into a ‘super hero’ via the drug FX7 and then it all gets a little bit weird… Josh’s transformation at the hands of FX7 is one of the major parts of the book. It’s fucking grotesque but it’s rendered in glorious detail by Ryp so you just can’t look away, like when dad starts crying.

But it really serves to emphasize the change that Josh undergoes. There’s no way you can come back from that the same, like being trapped in IKEA overnight with loads of people re-enacting the surgery scenes from Dead Ringers. Which brings us directly back to Ellis’ themes, in comparison to The Guns, The Front Line have changed in more significant ways. Each having taken the drug and having their bodies altered drastically, Ellis shows us again and again that their physiology is non-human and that they are non-human, like when Snoopy bit Charlie Brown allll up. Although they look like us, with the unfortunate exception of Josh, they are not like us. As we begin to find out more and more about the post FX7 humans we can also see this reflected in their emotional state, no longer concerned with being heroes, just in looking like ones. They have lost all connection to the human race. They seem callous, self-serving, cruel and ultimately in some ways evil.

I would cry on this book FIVE times!!!

Supergod #1-5

Ellis/Gastronny

Supergod tells us the telling of the story of the end of the world. Remember that episode of Friends where Joey tells you about the time all the Friends forgot all the social convention nonsense and all six of them plain rutted for 20 minutes, only breaking so Chandler could scream ‘Orgasm, Smorgasm! Could I BE anymore Mickey Rorke!’? 

In a nutshell that is Supergod.

Supergod smashes you in the face with death and destruction right from the word go, as our narrator sits in flame fucked London smoking a doobie and re-counting the events that lead the human race to that one final quiet moment.

It’s the ultimate arms race/religious movement mash-up/fist fight/warm bath as the history of the godrace is recounted. It’s Doctor Strangelove…on bible flavoured acid, but less funny.  Each major civilisation on Earth is involved in the race to create its own man-made God weapon first via bad science and outer space thingies, and the book takes us through each origin process on our way to the final confrontation between the Godthings.

As the ender of the trilogy this book rightly ramps up all of the themes we’ve previously seen. As we meet the titular gods we see, from both their images and action, that these are something very very different to us. From the weird sight of Morrigan Lugus the three-headed mushroom space god from England to normal looking Jerry Craven the Christian American fighter pilot who has to be contained in the USArmys approximation of Heaven just to keep him sane. We are shown that these beings are so far beyond human, so fucking un-human that their actions are above any ideas we have about good and evil, right and wrong, left and right. Even Krishna, who ultimately is revealed to be doing what he was programmed to, starts out with a likkle bit o’ genocide…

The change in artist is noticeable here, but Gastonny does some amazing work, rendering truly horrific structures made of humans as the Gods do battle, really really good stuff.

Verdict: I would cry on this book SEVEN times!!

The books really do work as a loose trilogy and I recommend they are read that way. It’s nice to see seedling ideas passed from book to book, as Black Sumer introduces the transformation ideas with small asides, No Hero meditates on it. Likewise with the idea of an international superhero arms race between No Hero and Supergod. But the deconstruction of the single idea here is the real draw, watching Ellis push his thought process out to its ultimate penis waving conclusion really is a treat.

Final Verdict: I would cry on the trilogy EIGHT times!!

Speech Bubbles: Planetary