batman_and_red_hood_20_cover_2013Batman And Red Hood (previously named Batman & Robin but recently renamed due to Robin being occupied by a previous engagement with a dirtnap) #20 is finally proof – to me, at least – that when Grant Morrison killed Robin in Batman Incorporated, he really didn’t tell anyone what he was planning to do ahead of time. Because the only possible explanation I can think of for a comic like Batman And Red Hood #20 to exist is that the creative team had to come up something – any damn thing – to fill the pages that was at least somewhat on point with this dead kid they suddenly found themselves saddled with.

Seriously: sudden, blinding panic is the only explanation for some of the things we’re seeing in this issue. Trying to introduce some version of Carrie Kelley that we’ve never seen before is a bad enough flailing grasp from a creative team realizing that they’re buying groceries with the money made from a book with the name “Robin” in the title. But it also is the only explanation for, hell, almost the remainder of the book. There are so many problems with this issue, from off character moments to weird methods of attack that make no sense to a couple of legitimate “what the fuck?” panels that I have to believe the issue was whipped together at the last minute in a pants-shitting panic.

Because otherwise, I need to believe that a writer of a Batman comic book would think that Batman would engage in a drive-by shooting in the interest of resurrecting the dead.

Yeah, you heard me.


batman_and_robin_18_cover_2013When DC leaked the news last month that Grant Morrison would be killing Damian Wayne in Batman Incorporated #8, the company claimed that the character’s death would resonate across the main Batman Family titles, despite Batman Incorporated existing, since the New 52 reboot, in some strange continuity bubble that seems to lie outside of the New 52, and based on some weird editorial philosophy where all major decisions are tagged with the phrase, “…but keep Grant Morrison happy.” In that spirit, one would think that, compared to the maintenance of continuity spreadsheets, last-minute story changes and line editorial late nights and headaches, it would be cheaper and simpler to just dump a truckload of peyote on Morrison’s driveway, but whatever.

My big question at the time of the reveal was: how exactly were the other Batman Family creators going to handle this event? After all, Batman and Robin’s battle against Leviathan from Batman Incorporated wasn’t exactly something that had been addressed in the other books, and it seemed like those other writers already had plans for upcoming story lines. Hell, before Robin’s death, Scott Snyder had announced he was embarking on a Riddler story in Batman before more recently announcing that instead he was gonna do a long-form Batman: Zero Year story focusing on Batman’s early years, and while Riddler might be a part of it, it at least seems like a change of plans.

But my biggest question, that I couldn’t address at the time without riddling the story with spoilers, was how this would affect Peter Tomasi’s Batman & Robin, what with the tiny detail that Robin’s name appears in the fucking title. And while other Batman Family titles have clearly just shoehorned Robin’s death into previously-planned storylines as an afterthought (last week’s Detective Comics simply mentioned it in a panel or two while Batman then went on his merry way attacking Penguin and Emperor Penguin as previously planned, and in this week’s Batgirl the death gets a page and a half before going back to Barbara’s fight with James Gordon, Jr), it’s gotta be hard to move forward with any previously-existing plans when one of the title characters is taking a dirtnap. You know, until someone kicks his carcass into a Lazarus Pit (and you know this will happen).

So given the early efforts of the Batman Family titles to apparently simply slot the fact that Robin is dead into existing story plans (Please note that I don’t know that this is the case. For all I know, Grant Morrison called a staff meeting with the Batman editors and creators a year ago and announced his plans over absinthe and some form of ritually sacrificed beast of burden, and it’s just the half-assed executions that make it look shoehorned in), I was half-expecting for Batman & Robin #18 to be a standard Batman story with maybe some weird-looking camouflage art to cover where Robin was supposed to be, and a headset quickly pencilled onto Batman’s head so it wouldn’t look like he was talking to himself like an insane person.

I was wrong about that. Instead, Batman & Robin #18 takes Damian’s death head-on, with the focus solely on Batman and how he is handling the event (short answer: badly), and makes use of a bold storytelling choice to make the reader empathize with Batman by almost forcing us to try to think about what we’re seeing in his reactions. Suffice it to say that, if Robin’s death in Morrison’s playground was a forced afterthought in some of Batman’s titles, it most definitely was not here.


green_lantern_20_promo_cover_2013DC’s been releasing their May solicits over the past few days… with one exception: they’ve been holding back their Green Lantern solicitations. Which has led to a certain amount of anticipation, at least here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, because some of the best crossovers and events in DC Comics over the past several years have come from Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns in those books.

So we’ve been waiting for what Johns had planned starting in May with bated breath, with images and memories of classics like The Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and Brightest Day dancing in our heads. What would it be? Another big crossover? Rainbow Lanterns? A new Lantern oath involving the prominent use of the word “sack”?

Turns out, not so much. It seems that Geoff John’s next big plan for Green Lantern is to, well, quit the book.

And apparently it was such a good idea that every other writer on the Green Lantern books has made the same plan. That’s right: everyone is leaving the Green Lantern books.

Um… what the hell, Geoff?


EDITOR’S NOTE: Vowing upon their parents’ death to rid Gotham City of the forewarning element, Crisis On Infinite Midlives has, over the years, fought spoilers in their many macabre forms. This time they lost. You are warned.

As I said in my review of Batman & Robin #4, I am enjoying this book one hell of a lot more than I thought I was going to when I finished the first issue. A book that started out looking like the worst of the Batman TV show was starting to look more like the Christopher Nolan movies. And #6 continues that trend, but there’s a funny thing about movies: I’ve always said (Because I lifted it from Stephen King in Danse Macabre) that I can tell if a movie’s any good, or if it’s too long, if I start wishing for a cigarette in the middle of it. At six issues into this battle against new villain Nobody? Yeah, I could use a smoke.

It’s not that this is a bad story by any stretch of the imagination. This issue gives us Robin under the clandestine tutelage of Nobody, who is actually Morgan Ducard, son of Henri Ducard, who trained Bruce Wayne before he put on the Batman suit. You remember, Liam Neeson from Batman Begins? You know, that Batman movie just before The Dark Knight? The one with the chick who’s banging Tom Cruise? Just go to any Best Buy dollar DVD bin and you’ll find it. But I digress.

Nobody is slowly massaging Robin into becoming a killer, starting to ease Robin toward a willingness to kill by doing the old “give him an empty gun and tell him to shoot a guy to get him used to pulling the trigger” trick, followed a couple of pages later with the subtle mindfuckery of the “Now dump the guy into a vat of acid while he’s awake and screaming like a pig in a chute” ruse. In the meantime, we flash back to Bruce’s first mission with Nobody’s father, where he tried a similar method of attenuating Bruce toward lethal means with the time-tested classic, “Shoot a dude in the face in front of the guy who has repeatedly stated that he will never kill, then say, ‘U mad bro?'” The two stories are interesting and effective in drawing parallels between Batman’s early training and Robin’s current work, but the abrupt nature of each Ducard suddenly chucking in lethal force is jarring, and forced me to say, “Oh well; he only had about about 20 pages to get it done,” and just like when you realize you’ve started looking for the wires in a space opera movie, boom! Just like that, you’re out of the story and wishing for a cigarette.


We’re now five issues into the New 52 reboot of Green Lantern Corps, and the one thing that has become undeniably apparent is that this book has a distinct identity. Unfortunately, that identity is that it’s the book that swipes from – or to be charitable, is inspired by – other forms of entertainment. Issue 3 was lifted from a video game in hoard mode. Issue 4 looked a lot like an episode of 24. This issue’s a knockoff on Sylvester Stallone’s flick The Expendables. At this rate, issue 6 will be about a Green Lantern whose ring is positioned in the back of her throat and can only be activated by Harry Reems.

Seriously: this issue is about The Expendables of the Green Lanterns Corps: The Mean Machine. As Guy Gardner calls them, “…the toughest sons of bitches in the Corps.” They’re old soldiers, so old that after more than forty years of modern Green Lantern stories, this is the first time we’ve ever heard of them. So old they wear the traditional Green Lantern uniform of jeans, muscle shirts and leather jackets. So old they have code names like, “Lee” and “Flint” and “Bronchuk”. So old they drink heavily, and probably occasionally tip a forty for their dead homies Norrisum, Schwarzeneggerzil, and Van Damme (Van Damme being Oan for “Michael Keaton.”).


Call this post “The Good, The Bad, and WTF”. Here are some books we’ve talked about before. Let’s check in to see how they’re doing now.

The Good

Wolverine And The X-Men written by Jason Aaron with pencils by Chris Bachalo, Duncan Rouleau and Matteo Scalera wraps up the opening story arc of Wolverine’s first day trying to run a school for young mutants. I enjoyed the first issue. Aaron continues to bring humor to this tale, now up to issue #3. He pens an engaging story that reminds the reader that your typical teen can be an obnoxious handful who believes deeply that they are the hero of not only their own story but everyone else’s. Still, all the kids want to do is fit in somehow, in his or her own way.

More goodness, badness and wtf-ness after the jump…and spoilers.


Batman & Robin is a textbook case of the dangers inherent in telling a decompressed comics story. The first issue read to me as a wretched Goddamned mishmash of elements from Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies and the old 60s TV show: big, silly action – including riding Batpoles, and not in that good superhero porno parody way – combined with the introduction of some darker elements, like a new villain who dissolves his enemies in acid. It was a frustrating experience in cognitive dissonance, like watching Cesar Romero tie Adam West to a giant roman candle and then chop Burt Ward’s foot off with a rusty machete.

The first issue was so dissatisfying that I was prepared to drop the book from my pulls, except I didn’t want to risk accidentally losing Scott Snyder’s Batman by accident. And I am glad that I didn’t, because the subsequent three issues, which tie up the opening story arc, have proven that Batman & Robin deserves to stand with Snyder’s Batman and Tony Daniel’s Detective Comics as some of the most rock-solid, entertaining Batman comics in years. Sometimes I’m glad to be wrong.

Let’s get some of the prejudicial facts out of the way up front: I have never particularly liked Damian Wayne. Since his introduction he has often been written as a bitchy little brat, to the point where Amanda has sometimes gotten the both of us laughing by reading Damian’s dialogue in the voice of Stewie from Family Guy. Try it yourself, it’s fun: “Now look here, Pennyworth…”


A few weeks ago I reviewed a comic book about a video game that was actually a damn good Green Lantern story. By contrast, the latest issue of Green Lantern Corps is a Green Lantern comic that is, for all intents and purposes, a video game.

This book is what Green Lantern would be if it was a first person shooter in Hoard Mode.

You think I’m kidding? The whole video game vibe frankly bakes off of this book. For starters, look at that Alex Garner cover and tell me it doesn’t look like concept art from some FPS. The first person point of view, “your” hand coming into frame at right to shoot plasma beams at anonymous bad guys in armor with lightsabers… just replace the DC Comics slug with a health meter and the New 52 bullet with an ammo indicator and boom! You’ve got a shooter! A shooter designed by a focus group loaded with Asperger’s patients (“So how about we give stormtroopers lightsabers and have them fight Green Lanterns? Jesus, Bob; they’re all peeing!”), but a shooter nonetheless.

The whole video game vibe continues right into the story proper and doesn’t stop, from the weird aliens coming in multiple waves, to the Green Lanterns using their rings – weapons that can turn whatever you imagine into reality – to do nothing more than create a plethora of BFG9000’s to mow the aliens down. Part of me thinks that writer Peter J. Tomasi took a screen grab of an epic Red Bull-and-Stoli-fueled Gears of War session, emailed it to artist Geraldo Borges, and said, “Lightbox this, but make everything, y’know, green. But don’t trace the chainsaws on the ends of the guns; I don’t want to get sued.”


You thought we’d given up, didn’t you? No such luck; it’s a day, which means it’s time for another exciting episode of the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Podcast!

In this week’s episode, we talk about:

  • How to get comics into the hands of children (Give a store to Jerry Sandusky! What, too soon?)!
  • What to pay your kids for allowance (Or, Sundusky’s Lawsuit-Be-Gon)!
  • New Jersey Comic Conventions (or: SDCC with GTL and MPV meaning HEP3!)
  • F***ing Digital Comics: How Do They Work (Great, if you hate paper and reading comprehension)!
  • The pros, cons, Novas, Phoenixs (Phoenixes? Phoenices? Phoenicians? Penises?) and Wonder Twin clones of Marvel Point One!
  • Our favorite non-reviewed books of the week, and:
  • Fisting a ham (Oh, it’s in there)!

As usual, if you listen to this at work, you should wear headphones! Unless your boss is into that hot, sweet, man-on-piglet action (And if he is, thanks for listening, Coach Sandusky)!

Thanks for listening, suckers!


Comic Book Resources just published a preview of the upcoming Green Lantern Corps #1, written by Peter Tomasi (Of recent Batman & Robin infamy) and Fernando Pasarin on pencils. As with all DC’s New 52, I can only presume that it’s meant to be a jumping-in point for new readers unfamiliar with Green Lanterns, their background or any of their history. So let’s look at it while pretending to be one of those new readers, shall we?

We start with a man being locked into something called a “sciencell” against his will by uncaring jailors.