I started reading Showcase Presents Hawkman volume 2 this morning. This is a rare occasion where I like the Silver Age version of a character more than the modern version. I enjoy the loving relationship between the Hawk-couple and, frankly, I don't like the modern extreme right wing version of Carter.
Finished Elk's Run, which ended about as I expected. Once the situation started to spiral out of control the finale seemed preordained (not in every detail, of course, which is why it was still engrossing). The art still keeps me from declaring it a great series. It's so sketchy that I sometimes had difficulty making out what objects were being depicted, even ones that were important to the story. And while the coloring was effective at creating a solidity that the drawing would have lacked in black and white, it was also often murky. Fortunately the storytelling choices were solid.
The creator owned series of one-shots called Vertigo Voices began with Face by Peter Milligan & Duncan Fegredo, cover date January 1975. This is a truly creepy story about a plastic surgeon hired by a famous reclusive artist. The surgeon and his wife arrive at the artist's private island, and unpleasant surprises ensue. It's very effective, but I found myself noticing how dialog-heavy it is. That's a potential pitfall in any project that is writer-driven, and it pops up frequently in early Vertigo.
This morning I finished the Darwyn Cooke/Tim Sale Superman: Kryptonite. While I might have preferred Cooke on art as well as story, it's not much of a complaint, because I love Tim Sale's art, too. The book itself was a lot of fun; a new story set in Superman's early days depicting his first encounter with kryptonite. I don't know (or care about) continuity enough to know how well it fit in with the Superman mythos — a mythos whose early years are constantly shifting anyhow — but this was a great story that I really enjoyed reading. There were parts where Clark would be at the farm, and Sale would depict him in overalls that kind of suggested a lumbering oaf farmer, even though it was the same body type as the not-lumbering-or-oafish-at-all Superman he drew; this was, to me, a nice nod to the different ways Clark carries himself to distance the Clark Kent/Superman connection.
I also read today the second Batman & Robin volume, Batman vs. Robin, which collects issues 7-12 of that series. Morrison's Batman continues to be splendid madness, and I enjoyed reading it. Some of the turns in this series, such as the identity of Oberon Sexton and the just-revealed mystery surrounding Bruce's 18th century ancestor, were spoiled for me before reading this (the danger of waiting for the trade, sadly), but it took nothing away from the mechanics and scope of Morrison's story. I'm already looking forward to the next volume!
I've recently borrowed several things from the library. One was Joker, a Vertigo or Vertigo-esque tale that answered a question we've pondered from time to time: Why would any henchman hench for The Joker? We see the story through the eyes of Johnny Frost, who picks up The Joker upon his release from Arkham Asylum. (And why, pray tell, was The Joker released from Arkham Asylum? Because if he wasn't released, there wouldn't be a story, that's why.)
As the story unfolds, The Joker sets about restoring his position at the top of Gotham's underworld, with Johnny as his driver. Johnny likes being around The Joker because he's been a loser all his life and he sees The Joker as a winner, and he likes being on the winning team. Yes, Johnny is ambitious, but I never said he wasn't stupid. And the longer he spends time with The Joker, the more he has reason to be frightened over the choice he has made.
Written by Brian Azzarello, which is why it has such a strong Vertigo vibe, and rendered by Lee Bermejo, who annonyingly makes The Joker resemble Heath Ledger's Joker from the movies. But then again, that version of The Joker made me truly understand why everybody, heroes and villains alike, is afraid of him, so I guess it's okay.
The middle books are sold that way, too. And you have no excuse...you have multiple sources which could tell you that RIP was part of a huge Batman storyline starting with Batman and Son, going into Batman and Robin, and even the end of Final Crisis. The RIP story isn't even completely finished...
And, out of curiousity, when was the last time you liked a Batman comic?
I don't entirely agree that Batman R.I.P.needs to be read within the greater scope of Morrison's Batman epic; I think it can be read on its own and understood enough on its own terms. It definitely makes more sense when read in that context, but outside of that context, it's still as approachable as anything Morrison does.
It is, I think, a continuing failure of DC/Warner Bros.' publishing arm to not do anything with these volumes to suggest that they ARE part of a larger story — even something as simple as volume numbering would help a great deal. I just cannot fathom why they try SO HARD to not give any indication that these books are anything other than standalones (which they almost always are not).
That being said, CK, what about it specifically reminded you why you don't buy Batman comics anymore?