Updates From The Bat-Cave: Teen Titans #94, Gotham City Sirens #22, Batman #709

The shipping list holds basically steady this week, with the always entertaining Teen Titans and two installments of a three-part crossover that evidently grew into four parts with Batman and Gotham City Sirens.

Teen Titans #94

Last month’s issue kicked off the adventure of the entire spring for the Teen Titans. Following up on plot threads introduced in this winter’s Wonder Girl one-shot, the team traveled to the border region between Pakistan and India. There, both Wonder Girl’s mother and the parents of a new hero named Solstice (who was introduced to Wonder Girl in the aforementioned one-shot) are engaged in archaeological studies of the ancient ruins. The Titans arrived last issue due to a distress call from Wonder Girl’s mother, pursuant to the events we saw at the end of the Wonder Girl special, where Solstice’s parents went missing.

Last issue was a well-crafted book. J.T. Krul proves that he must have learned something about writing dialogue during his time working on the set of Seinfeld (that’s not a joke; look it up), as that was one of the strongest points of an already solid issue. Writing teenage heroes is always a balancing act for comic writers, simply because those teenage years were quite some time ago for most of them. However, Krul manages to avoid the missteps that so many others make, such as too much melodrama (to the point that it’s just not believable) or heavy-handed attempts to shoehorn “current” teenage slang into the dialogue. That’s not to say there isn’t melodrama, because there certainly is (Superboy and Wonder Girl’s romantic tension, Superboy and Red Robin discussing leadership roles, Ravager manipulating Kid Flash’s overeager flirtatiousness, etc.); it’s just lightly done and in the proper amount.

Visually, it’s a wonder that Nicola Scott isn’t a bigger name. The book isn’t as flashy as say, Jim Lee or a Kubert or David Finch, but it’s bright and easy to read, with a surprising amount of detailed linework that can go unnoticed simply because the pencils blend so seamlessly into the act of reading the story.

Presumably we’ll be picking up where we left off: with Wonder Girl and her mother teleported into another dimension by a demon from Hindu lore, leaving the rest of the Teen Titans (along with their new ally and presumably soon-to-be-new-member, Solstice) to figure out what just happened and how to pursue their lost teammate, much less find Solstice’s missing parents. However, don’t look for too much to be revealed, as this month is only the second part of a five-part story arc.

Lastly, it’s worth noting that #93 was a perfectly good jumping-on point for new readers, so if you’ve considered picking the book up or jumped off in the past year (which would be understandable, given the mediocrity of the book before Krul took over), now would be a good time to give it a try, whether it’s for the first time or not.

Batman #709, Gotham City Sirens #22

DC’s website claims that this issue is part of the three-part crossover between Batman, Red Robin, and Gotham City Sirens. It also claims that #708 was devoted to Batman’s dealings with the resurgent Falcone crime family, as well as Catgirl (who is Kitrina Falcone, of said crime clan) being tempted to turn towards a career in the family business.

That clearly didn’t happen, as #708 was part of the crossover and the Falcone issue hasn’t yet shipped. However, the end of #708 listed this month’s Batman as the final part of the event, implying that what was once a three-parter has now become four.

In the first part of the story, Batman encountered Crusader, a pyro/telekinetic dressed, appropriately as…well, a crusader. When Batman, along with an assist from Red Robin and Catwoman, intervened in the chaos that Crusader was causing in downtown Gotham, Azrael showed up to back Crusader’s play: namely, that the Order of Purity (Azrael and Crusader’s organization, covertly run by Ra’s al Ghul) would burn Gotham City to the ground if one of the three members of the Batman family couldn’t prove themselves to be righteous in the eyes of the Order.

The second part, which took place in last week’s Red Robin, was actually a much better read than the opening installment of the story. Where the Batman issue felt a little too short on details for those who didn’t read the now-canceled Azrael (which was canceled due to low sales, so you’d think a quick recap on the characters/stories from that book would be in order) and frankly, a little off on the “voice” of the characters (particularly Red Robin), Fabian Nicieza’s part of the story was actually an interesting examination of Tim Drake’s faith…or lack thereof. That isn’t to say that it was without flaws: the most common complaint amongst comic fans regarding crossovers (that the crossover derails the flow of other books, making the inclusion of some titles seem contrived) was sadly on the mark there.

Based on what’s come out so far, it’s a fair assumption that the Gotham City Sirens issue will give us Catwoman’s trial by the Order of Purity and then Batman will feature both Dick Grayson’s judgment and the wrap-up of the story. For the casual Batman reader (one who only reads the “core” books), it bears mentioning that you could easily get away with skipping both last week’s Red Robin and probably this week’s Gotham City Sirens if you aren’t regular readers of those titles. On the odd chance that you were considering picking up either of these books for the first time this week, this is not the week for you.

Also shipping this week is Superman/Batman # 83 (dude, Detective Chimp!), Young Justice # 3, and Justice League of America # 56, none of which are strictly Batman books, but all of have varying degrees to connection to the Batman universe. In collected editions, Superman/Batman: Worship ships, collecting issues #72-75, plus Annual #4 (which was a Batman Beyond issue).

Next week is short on quantity, but high on quality: Batman Incorporated and Detective Comics both ship. See you then.

Be sure to check out our interview with Teen Titans writer J.T. Krul from WonderCon 2011!

WonderCon 2011: J.T. Krul Discusses Writing Teen Titans

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