Today’s quick comic review is going to be a two-fer, because I wanted to talk about Batman: The Return (which came last month) and also Sir Edward Grey, Witchfinder, which is fresh on the stands last week. That one’s from Dark Horse, and I’m printing a Scott Allie interview next week, so I thought it would be good to bone up on my DH reading.
Batman: The Return is a one-shot, wrapping up all of Grant Morrison’s loose ends from Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. Bruce had been dead-not-really-but-actually-lost-in-time for most of last year, and his return meant that all members of the Bat-Family got a chance to recast their roles a bit. While gone, Dick Grayson (the former original Robin) took over as a lighter, more acrobatic Batman, with the role of “heavy” relegated to Bruce’s illegitimate son Damien as the new Robin. This role reversal proved so popular with fans that Bruce seems in no hurry to return to the status quo.
In this one-shot, Morrison sends Bruce to the Middle East with Damien at his side. This is the first we’ve really seen of the father-son Batman and Robin, and it feels off for a reason. Bruce is testing Damien, and tells him in no uncertain terms that the feral youngster has failed. When Damien protests, Bruce reassures him (and us) that the past year isn’t going to be swept under the rug so quickly. Damien and Dick can keep the roles they’ve been growing into; as for Bruce, he’s going international.
Yup, Bruce Wayne has recently pulled a Tony Stark (well, the original comics-version, anyway) and announced that he’ll be funding and organizing a world-wide network of “Batmen and Robins”, creating something like DC’s answer to Marvel’s S.H.I.E.L.D. Now, whether this works or not is isn’t really the point. Bruce can always retreat to the persona of Batman. Like the Justice League International and the West Coast Avengers before them, Batman, Incorporated will be a fun addition that doesn’t mess up the foundation. (And if Grant Morrison decides to keep the idea of a Bat-franchise, expect the eventual introduction of less-than-stellar Batmen. If the weirdo Scot likes anything, he likes watching spectacular failures.)
Now, on to what I grabbed last week: Issue 1 of Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever, a new 5-issue series from Mike Mignola, with beautiful artwork from John Severin. For those who might not recognize Severin’s name off the top of your head, he’s an 88-year old legend whose work can be found in the original EC Comics library, the first issue of MAD Magazine and (this is how I know him), the wonderful world of Creepy all though the 60’s and 70’s. The guy’s a legend, and his highly-detailed craftsmanship pops out from the very first page. This, this is how comics should be drawn:
Does it go without saying that a voodoo Western featuring the British Crown’s most polite ass-kicker is great? Well I’ll say it anyway. This is a great comic. No Alan Moore-style Easter eggs, no heavy portentousness. Just good, clean, scary magic. I cannot wait for the next issue.