Feb 27, 2009

Bye, Bye Bat Books

An era has ended for a large chunk of the Bat family. Nightwing, Robin and Birds of Prey all finished their average 10 year runs in the last two weeks. I reviewed/recapped the titles in my most recent DoubleDCoverage column but I felt they deserved to be highlighted separately because, let's face it, they've all earned it.

Nightwing #153

I had just started thinking Dick Grayson had finally come into his own. He's hasn't been Batman's sidekick for a long time now but it wasn't until he took up residence at the Cloisters in New York that I really believed he was ready to be his own hero. I know a lot of people didn't like the switch but to me, he seemed more at home up on a hill than down in a cave. So it was a sad moment for me in this final issue when the JSA quickly helped him move out.

Dick quietly came back to Gotham and immediately began working with Alfred and Tim on what needed to be done. There was no action, just a lot of deep meditation on where his life was and where it's headed. We all know he's already more like Bruce than he thinks, discussing with Alfred how Tim is handling the loss and taking over the responsibility of visiting the scene where Bruce's parents were killed. 

It was a classy and fitting ending but also a great beginning. My only issue was with the Origins & Omens story that followed. It was a light tale about Dick taking Barbara Gordon skydiving for her birthday. Cute, but completely out of balance with what came before it. Regardless, both characters have serious paths to take soon and it was nice to see them both happy, if only for a moment.

Robin #183

Wow. This one blew me away. I like Tim Drake but I never saw him as a serious contender for the cowl. Fabiel Nicieza changed my mind in one issue. An ominous note from Lady Shiva has Tim believing it's his last night on Earth and maybe that thought is exactly what he needed. Just to keep us guessing a brief cameo from Jason Todd, a secret message from Bruce and some strategically placed costumes leave the door open for his stepping up as well.

Tim starts his night by cutting ties with his oft neglected girlfriend Zoanne, chatting with one of his school friends Ives and reaching out to Stephanie. She doesn't answer when he calls so instead he spies on Detective Harper and Jason Bard who are out on a date together. It finally dawns on him that that's the life he'll never have if he chooses to continue down the path of being just like Bruce, closed off and quite possibly obsessed. 

When Lady Shiva finally shows up the exchange is not at all what I expected. She doesn't think Tim can handle the responsibility of Gotham and breaks three of his ribs as they begin fighting. Yet, she is the one who immediately falls to the ground. He knew way in advance that she was coming for him and poisoned some chocolates in her hotel room with a heart rate paralytic that would only work if her heart went up four beats. He presumed correctly that it would and it's exactly what Bruce would have done. Shiva refers to him as "Little Bird." Not so much anymore.

Birds of Prey #127

It was too much to hope for that all three finales would be winners I guess. Of course, the disappointing ending had to come in the form of one of my favorite comics, Birds of Prey. Granted, the team went through some tough times in the last year or so, what with Black Canary leaving and Big Barda dying and all but that doesn't mean the last issue shouldn't kick all kinds of ass. The best word I can use to describe it would be deflated.

The biggest mistake with BoP was not finishing the Calculator story line earlier and having a separate issue to wrap up the series. The majority of the issue was spent running away from Calculator 2.0 and taking down the Silicone Syndicate. Calculator played a role in Final Crisis and will be involved in Teen Titans soon but his role here doesn't mesh with either. To make things official, Oracle also had to destroy the Birds new headquarters to prove they aren't coming back. 

There's lots of fighting in this issue and Misfit is very proud of herself as she takes down Gizmo all by herself, which is cool, but even though they destroy the Syndicate, Calculator gets away. This leaves Oracle feeling utterly defeated, not just in the match-up but mentally. She thinks she's lost her edge so she up and leaves the team with nothing but a note left with Infinity to explain her absence. That's it. No more Birds of Prey. Excuse me, what? Sorry, but that's the worst thing I've ever heard.

Yes, Barbara has some stuff she's got to work through, we've seen that the last few issues. We notice that in the Origins & Omens backup but leaving the team YOU started and worked so hard for over the years just doesn't sit well with me. Not to mention what's missing in this issue - any discussion between Barbara and original Bird Dinah. Huntress barely has any dialogue either and, like I said, all of that is due to finishing the Calculator story. I'm sure long-time readers will agree with me that this was a crappy ending to a most excellent series. Oracle is getting her own mini-series shortly and will play a role in Battle for the Cowl but the BoP deserved much more than this for their swan song.

6 comments:

Continually Spicy said...

I've had a lot of customers that hated that last issue of Nightwing, but I really loved it. Tomasi is one of my favorite writers because he can be very subtle in the emotions he puts out there.

Great write ups!

Randy said...

Tomasi was the best thing to happen to Nightwing since Chuck Dizon left. I'm sad that his run is over, but I'll certainly be picking up Outsiders as usual.

I haven't been buying Robin that much but I will track down that final issue. I love that concept there.

I get the feeling with Birds of Prey that maybe the plug was pulled on it without giving them the chance to bring everything to a logical close. But then I'm not that big a fan of Tony Bedard's writing to begin with.

Anj said...

Great stuff here as usual.

I admit that I dropped BoP after Gail Simone left but I was saddened to see it get cancelled.

I also will be pretty ticked off if Babs stops being Oracle and goes back to being Batgirl in her new mini. That would seem like character deconstruction.

Doug said...

Tomasi just GETS it. The whole DCU, he just understands it all. He made NIghtwing a book I WANTED to read, not a book I grudgingly read whenever I needed another review.

I'm onboard for Outsiders as long as Tomasi's writing it.

The Nerdy Bird said...

I will also be really annoyed if Barbara stops being Oracle. But it looks like that might be where they're going.

Nick Ahlhelm said...

I am just saddened by DC's handling of Dick Grayson. Nightwing could be turned in to a great hero easily, but not by continuously making him just another member of the Bat-family. He needs to be allowed to stand on his own as a character, and to become a character that is a hero in his own right. Wolfman tried it once back in Titans and again with his short run. I just wish DC would realize the constant flaws with their plans.