Archive for the Comics Category

Knight and Squire: Issue 1 (of 6)

Posted in Comics on November 14, 2010 by watsonprime

Knight and Squire makes being British awesome. Seriously, in Paul Cornell’s new series featuring the English crimefighting duo, every little quaint British tradition, habit or slang is turned into either a hero, a villain or an entire super team.

Knight and Squire issue 1 sets the tone for a world briefly referenced in Batman Vs Robin, as Beryl Hutchinson (aka Squire) introduces a young man, The Shrike, to a magical pub filled to the brim with bizarre characters. Due to the pub’s “truce magic” superhumans from both sides off the law can enjoy a pint, which allows not only The Shrike,¬† but also us, to find out more about England in the DCU.

We meet¬† Jarvis Poker the British Joker, a dairy themed superhero called The Milkman who uses milk based weaponry and awful puns like “That didn’t go past yer eyes” after throwing a milk bottle, The First Eleven – a cricket themed crime gang with branches in India, Australia and the West Indes, but not America for some reason, there’s even a duo called the Black and White Minstrels, as well as an appearance from american crimefighter and JSA member Wildcat.

Like most first issues of any comic, there isn’t a particularly strong plot, as we need to first be made aware of the setting and the characters, and Paul Cornell does that perfectly. The idea of a place where heroes and villians can mingle is a great idea and allows us to quickly and efficiently meet all the new characters that Cornell is introducing to the DC universe, plus the appearance of Wildcat helps ground the series in the DCU without being distracting. While the Knight and Squire may be similar in appearance to Batman and Robin (which is obviously intentional) their characters and the way they interact with each other is very different. While non-English types might not get all the references within the story, Cornell takes the time to explain some of them on the back page, which I felt is a nice touch, while it’s sometimes nice to work things out on your own, with a title like this it would completely alienate large chunks of the audience if certain things weren’t explained.

Knight and Squire issue 1 is a great opener to the series, and I can only hope that the next 5 issues are of the same, if not better, quality.

Batman and Robin Part 2: Batman vs Robin

Posted in Comics on November 13, 2010 by watsonprime

Batman Vs Robin is why I love comics. To be more specific, Grant Morrison is why I love comics. No other writer mixes dark adult themes, emotional rollercoasters, superheroes and an massive sense of fun like Morrison, and Batman Vs Robin, the second chapter in his Batman and Robin series has all those in spades.

For those who aren’t up to date with Morrison’s Batman, I’ll try and summarise it as briefly as possible. Bruce Wayne has been sent back in time, but everyone thinks he’s dead. Dick Grayson, the first Robin, is now Batman and he’s accompanied by Bruce’s murderous 10 year old son, Damien.

Batman Vs Robin starts off with a bang, literally as Batman drops down from an explosion on the London Eye, he then continues on a chase through London, jumping over Black Cabs, hitching rides on the top of open top buses and riding a motorbike into St. James’ Park. It’s a fantastic thrill ride, and also demonstrates that this is not Bruce Wayne under the cowl – as you may be aware, Dick Grayson is first and foremost, an acrobat, as well as a lighthearted, charismatic young man.

Morrison makes Batman fun, with cameos from the English counterparts of the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder – Knight and Squire, as well as the ridiculously badass Batwoman he brings in a whole cast of eclectic characters, with no character more mysterious than Oberon ‘The Gravedigger’ Sexton. If you’ve been anywhere near a comic-related forum, you’ll probably be aware that the identity of The Gravedigger has been widely discussed, with Grant Morrison leaving clues throughout the story to help the audience work it out.

As well as the current plot of the new Batman and Robin fighting crime and learning to work together, Morrison is starting to work in his Bruce Wayne time travelling story, with Dick starting to believe the rumours that Bruce might be able to return.

While I could talk forever about Morrison’s writing, it would be wrong for me to not mention the gorgeous artwork. When I first saw Frank Quitley’s art in All Star Superman, I wasn’t particularly impressed, I didn’t hate it – I just didn’t think it was special, but seeing his covers for this series has completely converted me. He has created a series of fantastic images that I would quite happily put on my wall. While there a couple of artists who have worked on the series, some trying to emulate Quitley’s style, my favourite is Cameron Stewart who has a big, chunky, bold art style that fits perfectly with the action that Morrison writes. I wasn’t familiar with his work before this, but I am definitely going to seek out other titles he has been in.

Overall, if you haven’t read any of Morrison’s earlier Batman titles, then this is going to completely confuse you, but i you have, then i would say that this is a fantastic example of just how good comics can be.

Also, having the resurrected clone Batman talk in ‘text speak’ (eg. “wear r u, boy wundr?) is inspired, and something that could not work in any other medium.