8.24.11 Reviews (Part 2)
Batman Incorporated #8 (DC): Grant Morrison’s vision of “Internet 3.0” fueling this issue reads like a futurist Warren Ellis treatment, and that’s just fine with me. On one hand, it reminds me of those early 90’s experimental “digital” comics, and it certainly owes a debt of influence to more modern films like The Matrix and Inception, but it’s still a grand original take on layers of reality. It allows Bruce and Batman to occupy the same virtual landscape simultaneously, and that’s something he can’t really do in the real world. This issue pushes the envelope of thought, and that’s really what comics are for, aren’t they? You can do things in this medium that you can’t do in real life, or even with a finite movie budget. I enjoyed the “City of Numbers,” presumably 1’s and 0’s, of this virtual world. Here, a polymorphic virus stands-in for asymmetrical terrorism in the real world, and the anti-virus software is an Oracle/Batgirl hybrid on a Tron Cycle. It sounds weird, and it is, but I really loved it for how bold and out on a limb the vision was carried. I usually bitch about Frank Quitely-meets-George Perez artist Chris Burnham not being the regular series artist, but for this issue I don’t mind. On “regular,” more traditional looking issues, that wish still stands, but for this weirdness, the art is just fine. The blocky angular edges are in service to the story, and the overly rendered art is an absolute critical component of the aesthetic. It’s clever to see dismembered viruses degenerate into a spray of 1’s and 0’s, and random objects literally speaking in code. The forthcoming villain is set-up, we get the typical meta-moment as all DC books come to a close this month - bracing for new iterations, Morrison offers a revolution for the term “social networking,” and I can’t help but think that toy versions of the Batman and Oracle/Batgirl figures here would sell really well. Grade A.
Spontaneous #3 (Oni Press): Probably Joe Harris’ greatest strength as a writer from what I’ve seen so far is his willingness to avoid exposition and not insult the intelligence of his audience. It’s up to readers to connect all the dots here, to make the Grumm Industries connection, to look into Melvin’s past and see how it affects the present, and to enjoy the bright new character of Emily Durshmiller in the Whedon-esque mold she was created. Harris also has an ability to lace his scripts with just enough suggestion, such as the line “special fuels and compounds,” to allow the audience to gain a bunch of meaning without having everything spelled out for them. Weldele’s coloring is great, shifting from warm crimsons and Earth tones, to lush greens and blues. Overall, this story seems to be playing like early self-contained X-Files episodes, the good ones that weren’t bogged down by the greater convoluted mythology of the show. Grade A-.