Yeah, between A Death in the Family and Tim becoming Robin, there's a solid reason for him to be so cold and driven. After that, it's writers not realizing why that characterization came about, and not wanting to change it.
Batman #430: Reading these out of order, the reason for the tension between Batman and Gordon in #432 becomes clear: he's yet to tell Jim that Robin is dead. So here, when Gordon asks if Robin is with Batman tonight, your heart breaks for Batman. Besides that, the small addition to Batman's origin is interesting, and it makes it seems like this was meant to be a soft jumping on point for new readers. (One imagines there were a lot of new eyes on Batman post-A Death in the Family, so it makes sense.) While not the most memorable issue of Batman, there are good moments in here: Gordon hinting he knows who Batman is, Batman being slightly off his game, and the seven pages containing the origin and contemporary stories spring to mind. Batman #431: Batman throwing a frying pan at a ninja has to be my new favorite Batman moment. This one is jumbled. Skip it. Comics: 221
Batman #432: Along with the three issues mentioned above, this is another Batman comic I very distinctly recall buying off the newsstand. The cover made it an absolute must-buy: Batman fighting the FBI on the steps of a burning building? Hell! Yes! The one-issue story is a solid detective tale, in which Batman falls backwards into a seven-year-old cold case revolving around a missing boy. At any other time, he would have acknowledged it was too cold to be worth his time, but this is weeks after Jason't death and Batman cannot bare the thought of another dead boy going unavenged. So he pushes everything to the side; cases are ignored, his friendship with Gordon is tested, and he virtually dares the FBI to come after him. It's fantastic. For many, I think, the best bit will be Batman (disguised as a firefighter) fighting the FBI, but for me it's when he confronts the suspect and said suspect realizes it's over. The way Jim Aparo sells the fear in three panels is a masterclass in storytelling. Comics: 219
Agreed. There are only two words spoken in the entire book, and they are so powerful. Upon seeing the first dead "Batman" in the morgue -- not knowing this is just the beginning of a crime spree and that the body isn't really Batman -- Gordon tells the beat officer to "get out" before unmasking the corpse. It's fucking brilliant. My other favorite moment is Two-Face flipping his coin to decide if he should be happy or pissed that someone killed Batman.
Batman #433-435: This is the three-part story The Many Deaths of the Batman, which was the first Batman storyline I ever read month-to-month off the newsstand. Thing is, no matter how many times I read it, I always misremember the plot. For some reason, I recall it as being this: a man has deduced that Batman must be rich and athletically fit, so he begins murdering Gothamites fitting that bill, forcing them to dress up as Batman before delivering the killing blow. But that's not the plot at all. It's actually this: Stone, the man who trained Batman in defusing bombs, realizes Batman's technique is one he himself invented and only taught to one person. Since Batman uses it, the person he taught must be Batman. Worried Batman's greatest foes will also realize this, he fears they will stalk and kill him to get to Batman. So Stone begins tracking down the other men who trained Batman, killing them (after forcing them to wear Batman costumes), then faking his own death. This way, Batman's foes will think Batman's trainers are all dead, keeping Stone and his wife safe. If it sounds convoluted, that's because it is. But I still love it. John Byrne writes a great Commissioner Gordon, in that he's tired and world-weary, but he's not morose and pessimistic. Sitting behind a desk has not slowed him down. His Batman is a brilliant detective, putting all of the clues together quickly but not so quickly he feels omniscient. And his Alfred has the perfect level of dutifulness and snark, and he's clever in his own way. Jim Aparo nails each page; every death is gruesome without being gory, every player has their own way of moving, and, as always, his Batman is slim and sleek and oh-so powerful. Most people will probably see this as a short Batman storyline with nothing too memorable within (and it probably is), but it holds such a special place in my heart. Comics: 218
Darth Maul #2: A touch slower than last issue, but the glimpse into Maul's beginnings was interesting. I also enjoy his posse of bounty hunters. Star Trek / Green Lantern: Stranger Worlds #1-4: This is the squeal to Star Trek / Green Lantern: The Spectrum War, and so far it's even better than the first crossover. There are two more issues to go, and I'm very excited to see how it all wraps up. Hopefully IDW and DC leave room for a third part, because ring-bearers being in the Star Trek universe is an idea that has long legs. Comics: 214
Prowler #6: In the wake of The Clone Conspiracy, Hobie doesn't know what to do with his life, so he consults Peter and they weigh his options. None of which are good. As the final issue of a series, it's a nice sendoff for the character and book. Soon I plan to read The Clone Conspiracy and all of its tie-ins, including Prowler, and I find myself looking forward to those issues. Comics: 209
While I really, really, really want to give Dark Seasons a fair shake, I had to turn episode one off after a few minutes because I actively wanted to punch Marcie in her face. From the moment she set foot on screen, she became the worst lead character I have seen in a long time. If not ever. Maybe she'll have an arc and become likable by the end, but, thus far, she is despicable. All that said, I cannot wait to listen to this episode. So far I'm six minutes in and Ian's contempt for Marcie is already palpable.
Action Comics #976: Nothing was answered, and I'm not sure what the point was. It's a shame, really. The first two issues of this four-part story started strong, then it seemed to get jumbled. Comics: 208
Arkham Manor #1-3: Arkham Asylum has burnt to the ground, leaving nowhere safe to place the inmates. That is, until someone gets the bright idea to use the recently vacated Wayne Manor. After a murder is committed in his old home, Bruce goes undercover to find the killer inside the new asylum. There are three more issues in this series, as well as an Endgame tie-in oneshot, but I'm not actively compelled to read the remaining four issues. It's okay, and I like the art, but it doesn't hook me. Maybe I'll come back down the line. Comics: 207
1978: Superman 1979: Alien 1980: The Shining 1981: [ nil ] 1982: Poltergeist (but First Blood is a very close second) 1983: A Christmas Story 1984: The Karate Kid (but Gremlines, The Terminator, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Ghostbusters are all breathing down its neck) 1985: Back to the Future (it's Anne of Green Gables if TV movies count) 1986: The Karate Kid Part II 1987: The Princess Bride 1988: Die Hard 1989: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure 1990: Tremors 1991: The Rocketeer 1992: My Cousin Vinny 1993: The Fugitive 1994: The Shawshank Redemption 1995: Se7en 1996: A Time to Kill 1997: Jackie Brown 1998: Dark City 1999: Stir of Echoes 2000: America Psycho 2001: Training Day 2002: 28 Days Later 2003: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 2004: Shaun of the Dead 2005: Batman Begins 2006: Rocky Balboa 2007: Once 2008: The Dark Knight 2009: Inglourious Basterds 2010: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 2011: Midnight in Paris 2012: Skyfall (with Django Unchained as a close second) 2013: 12 Years a Slave 2014: Guardians of the Galaxy 2015: Creed 2016: Captain America: Civil War
Starlight #1-6: This is very much Mark Millar's loving tribute to Flash Gordon. Every page is dripping with respect for the classic strips and serials, with references to said material everywhere. But it's not a straight-up adaptation. Here we have Duke McQueen, a former fighter pilot in his 60s (possibly 70s) who's just lost his wife to cancer. His adult children are distant, and contemplate putting him into a home because they believe him to be delusional. And why's that? Because he tells tales of having overthrown an alien warlord decades ago, only to have returned to Earth to start a normal life. Everyone in town thinks he's a liar (at least) or mental (at worst). When Duke learns the people he saved are enslaved once more, he returns to battle, creaky joints and all. This is just so much fun. While there are some sad, touching, human moments, it's exactly what it should be: far-out space action and adventure with swords, ray guns, and Golden Age space ships. (As an aside, one of my favorite aspects of Duke is that he is not above shooting assholes in the back or kicking them in the balls. It's not that he's without honor, but, rather, he's not going to allow his personal honor to lose him a war.) With a background portraying dark, violent characters such as The Punisher, Nick Fury, and Barracuda, Goran Parlov is not the first person to spring to mind when someone pitches an Old Man Flash Gordon comic. Yet, he's exactly the perfect choice for the job. Despite his age, the large-framed Duke radiates power, whereas the smaller / lighter characters zip around with great speed on rocket-packs. Parlov's loose lines give the characters and world a lot of breathing room (allowing readers to insert their own details), while depicting them with amazing faces and movements. He's also able to shift from the bright (yet oppressed) landscapes and castles to the dark (yet hopeful) underbelly of the world, and this is with great thanks to Ive Svorcina. On Empress, Svorcina brought a blisteringly bright palette to the worlds, but on Starlight it's much more restrained; the colors are purposely flatter. This is done, one assumes, to fit the era of the source material, and it's executed wonderfully. (As another aside: Parlov adds the comedic touch of putting + over the eyes of characters who have been knocked out. It's an odd choice, but it made me chuckle.) Between Huck, Empress, and now Starlight, Mark Millar has had a string of books that have greatly impressed me. Comics: 204
Empress #1-7: Star Wars meets Fantastic Four as a royal family attempt to flee a Darkseid-like ruler / father. And it is amazing! If one Mark Millar book is perfectly made for a $200 million big screen adaptation, this is it. Every single character (save the baby) is fully rounded and capable of handling themselves, they all bring wonderful skill sets to the table and use them perfectly, and it works as a self-contained story but has just enough teases for a sequel. It's brisk when it needs to be, slows down for the softer moments, then ramps it all up for big action in the most exciting ways. Stuart Immonen, as always, is a master. He brings each character to life with the perfect body language and facial expressions, and each planet is its own unique beast. None of this would be possible, however, without Wade Von Grawbadger on inks and Ive Svorcina on colors. Von Grawbadger's thin, delicate lines compliment Immonen's lively, animated pencils. Whereas Svorcina makes you believe each skin tone is real (be it red, orange-ish, or purple), the explosions and energy blasts seems to radiate heat, and each world has its own palette and life. This cannot be given a higher recommendation from me: fun, emotional, full of surprises, and it has a warm family story at the very center of the action. Comics: 198
Trinity #7: Fate forces Ra's al Ghul, Lex Luthor, and Circe to join forces. That's it. Kingpin #2: This book has no idea how to be subtle. I might give it one more. I might be out. We'll see. Comics: 191
Detective Comics #948-949: Okay read, but things wrapped up too quickly. There was literally no reason not to chase the mutated guy save for the fact that this was a two-issue story, and they wanted to leave some things hanging for the new series, I guess. Batwoman: Rebirth: Not too keen on this one. While not bad, and it is certainly beautifully illustrated, it's mostly bullet points and a retelling of Kate's origin. (Why do I feel like we're always getting her backstory? Is that just me, or is that the way it is?) Batwoman #1: Good start. I'll be sticking around for the first story, at least. Comics: 188
Batman: Poison Ivy: This is a 48-page one-shot from 1997, and it is a damn fine read. Basically, a bunch of mercenaries test out a new weapon on what's supposed to be a deserted island. Unfortunately, Poison Ivy has made it her haven. When the island burns thanks to their weapons, she seeks revenge. No one is safe: not the trigger men, the accountants, scientists, or money launderers. They're all dead or ruined for stealing her peace, and you want her to win. Even after Batman gets involved, you still want Ivy to win. And she does; that's the best part, she pulls it off before Batman is forced to take her back to Arkham. Outside of a little exposition (she relays her origin to someone for no real reason), the writing hits all the right marks. Ivy is cold and angry without screaming like a madwoman, Bruce is an actual charming playboy, and Batman is intimidating without doing the whole "I'll break every bone in your body" thing. And the art! Wow! Brian Apthorp demonstrates Ivy's beauty without going sexual or pervy; his sunny island scenes are just as stunning as his dark Gotham; and when Ivy is seen in a drugged state, she becomes a creature of myth. My only gripe with his work here is Batman. His face / mask never seems quite right and changes frequently. But if you can get past that, this is a book to read and marvel over. Comics: 184
Superman #19: A little confused by this chapter. Like, how did Superman reach the top of the tower? Nightwing #17: Interesting. Having Dick see a sliver of his multiverse selves, as well as future versions of Damian, should have big ramifications. The Wild Storm #2: Lots of talking, lots of people aiming for the same goal, but with different agendas. A little confusing as to who's who, but I like where it's going. Comics: 183
Ultimate Captain America #1-4: Call me a purist, but I do not like the characterization of Ultimate Captain America. He's an unlikable, hard line fanatic. So watching him get his ass handed to him over and over and over again by Nuke made me smile, which I don't think was the intended reaction. Joking aside, who are we supposed to cheer for here? Cap is a dick to everyone, even his allies. When he shows up in Cambodia, he asks if anyone "speaks American" and acts like a bully. (Was this supposed to be a political statement about Vietnam by Jason Aaron?) Nuke makes great points, but he kills two SHIELD agents in cold blood. And when Cap finally turns the tide, he justifies America's bloodstained hands by saying it's "for the greater good." In the end, no one wins and everyone is worse for wear. (Again, is this the point?) Having loved Ron Garney's Captain America in the 90s, he's rough-edged, almost Punisher-like take on Cap is so very different and refreshing. It perfectly matches the darker tone of the character in this universe. Despite my feelings about how he's portrayed, at least he's made to look like the harder soldier that he is here. Between this miniseries and his work on Daredevil, it's amazing to watch Garney stretch his artistic legs. Comics: 180