Should have embedded this days ago: the first of my Let’s Play videos for Family Gamer TV. Apologies for all the umming and ahhing, these should get better with practice:
I feel weird whenever I go through an extended period of not buying Batman comics. From the tiny digests that I owned as a kid, to UK reprint titles, petrol station spinner racks and eventually visits to comic shops, Batman comics have been a staple of my comics reading. When I’ve been underwhelmed by the current DC output, or had to cut back due to lack of money, it’s felt like an unscratched itch.
Lately I’ve been getting the Snyder/Capullo Batman in paperback, which means I’m years behind, and reading the odd mix of recentish Batman titles reprinted in the UK. The Snyder stuff is great, the rest a mixed bag, and it’s all very infrequent and irregular.
I do still buy two or three US comics a week though, and so I’m susceptible to the more regular diet of a weekly Batman comic in the form of Batman Eternal – providing I can justify paying for it every week at the expense of all those all new Marvel titles, Image books etc.
Batman Eternal is a weekly book developed by a team of writers including, and presumably led by, Scott Snyder. The writing team and weekly schedule suggest something closer to the approach of a TV show than a monthly comic, and that’s what these first two issues set up, building a sprawling ensemble and setting various hares running.
The danger of a project of this scope is that twenty pages isn’t much to set up the sprawl that an epic weekly series is going to need, and indeed it’s not clear by the end of #1 the scope of what Eternal intends to be. The first issue has a flash forward to horrible future events, introduces the characters at the Gotham City Police Department via a newbie to the force, then throws us into the big action scene that’s the inciting incident for this story. It’s kind of intriging, artist Jason Fabok does very solid Bat-work in the very Arkham-game-influenced New 52 mould, but it doesn’t quite explain what this whole weekly series is actually going to be about.
#2 sets things up a lot better, exploring the ramifications of the incident in #1 and, in a final page reveal, showing who is behind it all. As such I’d actually recommend #2 as a sample more than #1 – the first issue’s events are recapped well enough, and by the end of this second issue the reader’s reaction to what is revealed should provide a good indication as to whether this is your kind of series. On one level it’s just a villain reveal, but the implications are for a story that’s wide in scope and go to the heart of what makes Gotham and the Bat cast distinctive.
It should be fun, and for now I’m in. Apart from anything else I’m curious to see how the series competes for my attention over the long haul. When I last read a weekly series, 52, I had more money and time for these things. Can Batman Eternal compete with other distractions? We’ll see.
No time for punning titles, I’ve spent long enough on this already. As many of you will already know, DC have announced a new range of original graphic novels, and have shown off some nice artwork (above). Having used this as an excuse to be rude about previous crappy comics on Twitter, and chipped in on a lively thread about the topic on The Beat, I seemed to find myself with a lot still to say on the topic.
So I said it here, on Shiny Shelf.
I really, really do. Here’s some proof.
To reiterate, as I could only really skim over the topic in the Shelf article, Arkham Asylum is great. The control system is fantasic, giving you a real sense of jumping around kicking faces, you get to do all the cool Batman stuff like gliding, using gadgets etc, and you do all this in a Bioshock style techno-gothic Arkham, a combination of high-tech facility and crumbling ruin on it’s own craggy island.
It’s fab. I’ve finished the story mode, but there’s still plenty of Riddler riddles to work through. It’s really pushed my completism button, this one. There are some games where you just think ‘that’s too hard’, and give up on the harder to find secrets. But with Arkham, all these things are possible, and the control system is responsive enough to let you. You just need to be smart enough and observant enough to work it out. I’ve spent a couple of twenty minute, head-scratching sessions trying to work out some puzzle or other, and when I’ve worked it out the feeling is always one of relief and satisfaction, not frustration. The game challenges, and it rewards. Perfect, Bat-fans.
Screen shot nicked from… ooh, I think it was G4D or something. Sorry!
… or thereabouts.
I’ve had an incredibly busy couple of months, to the extent that I can’t believe it’s ONLY been a couple of months, not three or four. I’ve left my job, finished editing a book, written a couple of short stories and a short comics script, moved house (and not across town, but to a completely different city), dashed off to deal with some family matters a few days after moving, then barely got back from that before heading off to Birmingham for British International Comics Show (BICS for short).
Speaking of which:
Nice, isn’t it? I think Charlie went for the Jokerised look as he only had a green pen to work with, due to various art materials shortages that hit the panel.
I wouldn’t say I’m gloating, I’ve only put it on Flickr. And as my profile picture on Facebook. And tweeted about it. And posted it here. And I’ll tweet about this post. And post about this post on Facebook. So not gloating at all.
To be fair, alongside Sean Phillips, Charlie Adlard is one of my favourite comics book artists. I’ve already got a Bill Savage sketch I bought from Charlie at a previous Bristol con, and so to randomly win another sketch out of nowhere was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
Anyway, I’m currently on a career break with the intent of doing some freelancing, working on some long term writing projects, and try and push up my writing productivity.
(In the highly unlikely event you’re reading this and are a commissioning editor with a budget, I can write anything and, due to a fluke of space-time, I do not just deliver ahead of deadline but before the original commissioning date.)
One of the things I’ll be doing to increase my writing flow is to revive this blog starting with… well… this…
It’ll get better. I promise.
Coming up – some more BICS bits, updates on ongoing projects, and more.
Or, if you’re lucky, less.