(Satan’s) Book of (Double Evil) Doom

Hello fiends, and welcome to this week’s devilish double-shot with our roundtable reviews of Grendel: Behold the Devil #0 and Batman #666.

Starting off with Grendel, when I picked this, I didn’t realize right off that it was just a preview issue. I was more entranced by the fact that it fit with the theme and that it was only 50 cents.

So as an issue of a comic, it was a little dull, but as a preview issue, it was pretty good. It established Grendel as a sadistic hunter (I enjoyed the line – “there’s an irrefutable verification of my unmasked namesake to be found in the bristling turbulence of any pursuit”), so it covered that aspect for new readers. But then for those familiar and those just introduced, it also reveals on the last page that the hunter is apparently being hunted.

I think Wagner’s artistic style takes a little getting used to. I know when I was first introduced to it, in one of the Batman / Grendel crossovers from the 90s, it seemed crude and simple. But at that time, I was used to the work of the Image creators, where 8000 cross-hatched fine lines was the sign of “good” art. I eventually realized he’s not trying to be that – he’s doing what he needs to do to tell his story – and since then, I’ve come to appreciate it as the expressively efficient work that it is. His storytelling doesn’t suffer from an abundance of line work, nor does it struggle to lure the reader along by being overly minimalist.

The comic story might be unnecessary for anyone familiar with Hunter “Grendel” Rose, but the bonus interview at the end makes it still definitely worth the 50 cents.

So before we move on to Batman #666, here’s what the rest of the legion had to say:

Fin Fang Doom:
As far as Grendel goes, how much can you really say about a six-page preview? The art was really cool. I especially like the use of red as the only color in the story. I’ve always thought Grendel was a really cool design for a character, and the idea of an urban ninja is kind of cool. Sure, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Elektra, Batman, Nightwing, Robin, Batgirl and many, many more are urban ninjas to a certain extent, but Grendel doesn’t really seem to be like any of those guys. I wouldn’t say that these six pages sold me on the series, but I’m probably more likely to buy it now than if Dark Horse hadn’t put out this half-dollar preview.

Doom DeLuise:

Well, I was thinking about saving Batman #666 for tomorrow, but thankfully the rest of the posse wasn’t too long winded, so I think there will be room here.

Batman #666 boasted several of my comic-reading pet peeves.

1. When you’re supposed to read the panels across the double-page spread but they give you no cues to do so, rather than the standard read to the fold, then go down the next line, repeat until the page is over, then go to the top of the right hand page and continue. I hate that.

2. When one character starts reciting poetry, the person he’s talking to always knows the next line.

I kind of enjoyed this look at Future Batman, with Damian taking up his father’s path rather than his mother’s. He’s a little more brutal, he has a different relationship with Barbara Gordon, but he’s still a total stud.

That said, this just seemed cute more than anything. This story was completely irrelevant, basically some kind of Elseworlds issue that apparently only happened because they were on issue #666. It just seemed like a chance for Grant Morrison to say “Oh neat, I get to make strange villains and weird situation because I’m Grant Morrison.” So we get a clown monkey and little doll girls and the Anti-Christ dressing up as Batman. It was just kind of fun and amusing in the way that watching a Danzig video is. You can enjoy the spectacle but at the end, you can safely say “You know, I think I’m done with that.”

And now, for the rest of the Legion…

Fin Fang Doom:
Wow, a crazy ass Batman in a dystopian future that’s overly violent? Wow, what an original concept. How on Earth did Morrison come up with that one? I don’t really have much to say about the issue. It was poorly conceived, poorly written, and poorly drawn. There’s a reason I stopped buying the Morrison/Kubert Batman months ago.

Doom DeLuise:
This type of issue makes me think that maybe DC brought back the Multiverse so that they could disregard any kind of continuity that they’ve ever come up with. I always thought the Frank Miller Batman stories were considered canonized, but I guess that I was wrong, because this issue offers up a future that seems like it would fit more in an Elseworlds setting than in the flagship Batman comic book. Because, if this is the future of Batman, then the Batman we all know is going to die in about four or five years. Damian says he’s fourteen when Bruce Wayne dies, and we’ve seen Damian at, what, ten or so? Oh well. Let’s overlook that for a minute, and talk about the actual issue.

It’s kind of cool. As much as I hated Damian the Kid, I kind of enjoy Damian the Batman. I have a couple of favorite parts. The first is when Batman shows that he’s prepared every prominent building in Gotham with booby traps so that he’s always prepared for a fight, regardless of the location. That’s something that our Batman should have done. My absolute favorite moment, though, is when Damian mentions that he knew he’d never be as good as his father or Dick Grayson. Little lines like that reinforce the fact that Dick Grayson is second only to his mentor, and a rub like that makes me happy to be Grayson’s number one fan. It’s about time somebody showed him some respect. How cool would that be if Grant Morrison were writing his ongoing?

The art’s pretty, the story is fun, and that’s really all that matters. I’ll ignore the continuity geek questions and just go on my merry way, thank you very much.