Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Three Sons: El Secreto vs. Battle For The Cowl!

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a week late. But this was such a bad example of how to do an "event" comic that it still bugs me. Let me count the ways.

1. The Premise. Bruce Wayne dying (for now) isn't inconceivable, even if it was handled poorly. What was really hard to swallow was that Bruce Wayne, the guy who once had an entire new Justice League on standby just in case didn't have another contingency plan for Dick Grayson to take over the family business. Again. The third-issue exposition-by-hologram actually made the problem worse; seriously, Batman didn't figure out how much of an impact he had on keeping Gotham in check? Did he never listen to his own monologues? And even if Dick were hesitant to pick up the mantle, would it be so hard to believe that Bruce - or new Outsiders leader Alfred, for that matter - would have alternates ready to call upon?

2. The Struggle. Really, there was no battle. Sure, Jan Brady Jason Todd donned his own gun-happy variation on the Batgear, but, we never saw anybody believe he was the real deal -- or even the new version. In an effort to flush Jason out, Tim Drake opts to don a suit from the Jim Aparo collection, complete with '70s dialogue. But Jason actually calls it: Tim's effort was simply him playing dress-up, which undermines the ostensible purpose of the whole affair.

3. The Context. We're told over and over that Gotham is under siege after the fall of the Bat. But, how could it be any worse than No Man's Land? Or the Cataclysm? Or the War Games? It's hard to believe residents don't just walk around multiple homicides like so much park litter after all the calamities they've been through. Bringing in The Network was a nice attempt at underscoring the latest round of chaos, but we didn't get to see enough of them in action in the main series, and their one-shot was too slight to mean much of anything.

So, three overblown months' worth of books later, the stage is finally set for DC and Gotham to move on - kinda. Tim's set to become Red Robin and search the globe for Bruce (Why isn't he Nightwing? That's taken); Jason is ... off being nutty somewhere else. And as everybody figured out the moment Bruce was turned into Apokolips Fried Chicken, Dickie and Bruce's biological son Damian are set to be the new Dynamic Duo. And for all the good all this build-up did -- BFTC #1 was reportedly outsold by two Avengers books; #2 lost to a Neil Gaiman-penned issue of Detective Comics -- DC has gotta be hoping Grant Morrison can kick-start sales on the title some more before Bruce comes back -- perhaps as part of its' latest marketing initiative?

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