Justice League Dark: Act II

Once upon a time(or 2011) writer Peter Milligan and artist Mikel Janin teamed up to give us comic fans a wonderful gift. Justice League Dark. The team(don’t call them that) that was certainly not a team. Bringing together some of the more occultish characters in the DC Universe(with a healthy nod to the Vertigo imprint) it was one of the best surprises of the New52 era. Unfortunately it has been conspicuously absent from the otherwise wonderful ReBirth run.

That is no longer the case.

James Tynion IV(on words) and Alvaro Martinez(on art) debuted their version of Justice League Dark last week.

Spinning out of Dark Knights Metal and No Justice, we find Wonder Woman attempting to put together a team of magic/occult based heroes to combat new threats from that world. Magic is malfunctioning and Diana believes it will only get worse.

The set up works. As much as many look up to her the magic world sees her as an outsider. She may have been born of gods and magic but that does not mean she is one of them. Initially her only recruits are Detective Chimp and a decidedly more docile Man-Bat. Of course by the end of the first issue Swamp Thing and Zatanna have joined the fray.

The art by Martinez is clean and imaginative. Tynion seems to have a good handle on each characters voice. This book has so much potential.

I have a fondness for titles that play around the fringes of the comic universes. Added to the main cast you have potential appearances by John Constantine, Dr Fate, Etrigan/Jason Blood and many, many others.

It was a great start.

Things are about to get weird in here. Can’t wait.

Broken Bat

The Bat and the Cat.

Batman number 50 has come and gone. By now most everyone has probably seen the issue but regardless…

Spoilers, spoilers and more spoilers

Yes the wedding did not go off as planned but then again that was spoiled ahead of time(thanks to the New York Times) and some fans lost their bloody minds.

The issue itself was wonderful. From King’s writing to Mikel Janin’s wonderful art to the pin ups from nearly every artist to ever draw the bat that fit so nicely into this issue. This was everything that you want from a 50th issue, ok except that no one said I do but we all knew that. The fact that it  was spoiled ahead of time did not  take away one moment of enjoyment. The story played out just as it should have been. The huge storybook wedding with a thousand guests was never going to happen. The Bat and the Cat would have had a spur of the moment private intimate  affair, just the two of them with the witnesses. And can I say Alfred was absolutely the right choice. Alfred has been there every step of the way in Bruce’s life to witness all the ups and all the horrific downs. He should absolutely have been there for the happiest day of his life.

Showing the dance that Bruce and Selina have always done was wonderful way to frame the story. This is not just the dance they’ve been doing for the last 50 issues but the dance they have done since Catwoman was first introduced(in Batman #1 in 1940) and I don’t believe for a second the dance is over. King has said this is a hundred issue story and I for one believe at some point we will get that wedding.

But by and large I am a journalist for all the spoiling that they did, they buried the lede.

Yes they spoiled that Selena leave Bruce at the altar so to speak but they did not spoil the best part of the issue

The best part of the issue the last two pages. The best part was seeing that not only has Bruce had his chance at happiness taken away but that it was done to him. The best part was that it did not just happen but that someone did this.

I love love love that they had Bane be the one to bring him down. They had Bane once again break Batman.

Too often they focus on Bane’s physicality. Far too often we forget that Bane is brilliant. He has a great strategic mind that is how he broke Batman in the first place it wasn’t just Venom coursing through his veins, it was setting loose Arkham Asylum to wear Bruce down.

This time it’s not breaking him with his fists but breaking the man emotionally and the imagery in the last panel of all the different pieces of the last 50 issues culminating and being seeming victory that was perfect.

The last panel that’s the turn, the penny dropping. It was that moment that changes everything that came before.

And after.

I know everyone is diving back into their comics and just looking for the little hints spread throughout this run.

Here’s too another fifty.

 

Enter Grayson

Nightwing8

Everything changes. That is the reality of life. Nothing is as we remember it. Life evolves and so do we.

Coming into the Forever Evil event we knew things would never be the same for Dick Grayson, for Nightwing. Most of the other major DC heroes, the Justice League’s, were missing, defeated, possibly dead. The villains had won, not the villains we knew but different more sadistic ones from another world. Worse still they had captured and unmasked Nightwing, the highest profile hero left standing. His secret identity was revealed to the world. The world knew that Grayson was Nightwing. Where does he go from here?

We learned where he will go this week. DC comics announced the new Grayson series written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, featuring art by Mikel Janin. The series begins in July. Honestly I felt a little column-blocked by the announcement (I started this column Monday morning). The series promises to show the former-Nightwing delving into the spy world. All the while allowing the world and his friends to believe he is dead.

Some have been critical of the direction of his new series, I simply ask why? It makes sense. Dick no longer has an identity to hide behind, his outing puts his closest friends and colleagues at risk. Before the new series was announced I had thought out a few ideas for how DC should proceed with the character. At no time did I think to kill him off. That made no sense, it would be a waste of a great character. I thought he should go into the espionage world, perhaps even leading a Team 7-style team for a time. Becoming a super-spy works.

What else would he do, just go back to being Nightwing? Another hero identity? No. For the time being there should be no Nightwing. Not Mr. Grayson and definitely not someone else taking his place. Nightwing is Dick Grayson accept no substitutes.

This avenue opens up worlds to explore, it gives writers opportunity to grow the universe. Best of all it puts Dick Grayson in situations that are far outside his comfort zone. Dick is a good man, he has always been. In a world where he has to lie to survive, even lie to his closest friends, how will he survive? How long before Dick reaches out to Barbara and reveals his secret?

Even better than the struggles Grayson would face ethically in this new world are the opportunities to bring characters into the New52 through this series. We have seen Argus, S.H.A.D.E. and the Suicide Squad, what other spy agencies abound. We have seen Amanda Waller, Slade Wilson, Steve Trevor even Cole Cash, could this series bring us Rick Flag or even better introduce us to King Faraday. Faraday could slide into this series as Grayson’s untrustworthy mentor. Dick is so used to implicitly trusting Bruce, how will he relate to someone who he cannot possibly trust. Another character who could be brought in is Travis Morgan, perhaps showing the mission that eventually reveals the world of Skataris and the origin of the man known as Warlord.

So many possibilities, so many adventures. It is time for Dick Grayson to step out of the shadow of Batman. Time for him to kick in that door and Enter Grayson.