Where I will make bold, unflinching declarations of opinion as fact (with massive caveats to cover my ass).
The Review/Hyperbole- This is not just the best single issue of Morrison's Batman run. It's not just the best single issue superhero comic of the year. It is the best use of Batman in any medium that does not involve Legos, shark chuks, or Lego shark-chuks. Hands. Down.
An Aside- I picked up my copy of Lego Batman last week for $45 and got a key chain. Well, to be more accurate, I picked up my $45 key chain last week and got a Lego Batman game. Sure, that sounds steep for a key chain, but look at this thing! It is awesome! And it's not even the one I wanted! They have Darwyn Cooke costumed Catwoman! I was bummed out until I realized that if that is something that I am bothered by, I am doing pretty damn well and need to never be bummed out about anything again. So; epiphanies and personal growth from a key chain!
Insult On Your Person If You Don't Agree That This Comics Is Good- You are functionally retarded.
Caveat- I haven't slept much lately at all. Also, I am the last man on earth to have not seen the Dark Knight yet. Also, you are probably not functionally retarded if you are reading this. And if you are, I am sorry for insulting you, even if you will not understand that I did.
The Review/Hyperbole- So, this was all cute and fun and everything, until they had to go and get all Ol' Yeller on us. I could see it coming, mind you. Even my often negligent analytical skills ombudsman could see it coming and yelled quite loudly about it, but it was still a downer. Rafael Albequerque did an excellent job going between traditional superhero style and bigfoot cartooning.
An aside- Some of this story arc reminded me of Evan Dorkin's World's Funnest one shot, and not just because Bat-Mite and Mxyzptlk were catalysts for the plot.
I could go on and on about it, but wikipedia can give you the vitals. All you ought to know is that this a comic which features art work from David Mazzuchelli and Jaime Hernandez; or, if you will, a comic where Stuart Immonen and Doug Mahnke are just average compared to their collaborators. There's two frames of reference for you.
Beyond that, it features both Alex Ross and Frank Miller having a sense of humor about their work, which is amazing because: a) Alex Ross having a sense of humor about himself or anything is hard to fathom.b) There was a point when Miller doing self parody in his comics career was a novel thing and not a summation of his entire output. Well, at least with Batman. I kinda get the feeling he's been having a laugh at our expense since... Elektra: Assassain, maybe? It's hard to tell.
Anyway, gobsmackingly amazing artist jams aside, there is a bit in the manic frivolity that I found to be interesting comics commentary/criticism. Bat-Mite winds up in the modern day DCU (or at least the DCU circa 2000), trying to avoid Mxy. After interacting with the heroes of the day, including his idol Batman, he concludes that they are all villains and destroys their world (which is what Mxy had been doing to Mite's horrified protests to all of the other worlds they interacted with). That bit always stuck with me.
There were echoes of that here; innocent characters brushing up against the grim and gritty (especially by comparison to them) DCU. What's amazing is that, after a few years of seeming to drift away from that after guys like Waid, Morrison and James Robinson (and even Jeph Loeb) became the pace setters, DC has gone even farther in that direction since the tonal shift of Identity Crisis and the subsequent crises afterwords. So, good on you, Heroes guys. The show is even entertaining again! To me, at least. I find Sylar's antics amusing; your milage surely varies, I'm guessing, and you will likely have much bile that I said Heroes without saying "is awful" in the same sentence. That sounds like you, strawman.
Insult On Your Person If You Don't Agree That This Comic Is Good- You have no soul if you do not find the Lil' League delightful. You have, like, negative soul, or a dog's soul. You should probably deal with that.
Caveat- There is no caveat. Those damn Lil' Leaguers are adorable.
Ambush Bug: Year Zero #3-
The Review/Hyperbole- I am not a big enough DCU ethusiast to get all of the jokes and references here. The arcana that wasn't covered by people like Sims, Campbell, and other guys who have made mock-capping goofy Silver Age comics an art form goes over my head (Merrboy? Really?), so that tends to not work either. The references to Crises not written by Grant Morrison also generally escape me (although the recurring (Not at all) OMAC references were pretty funny, especially because they converged with the Cheeks gag).
That said, the sheer verve of the plot's throw-every-gag-possible style usually carries the day for me in my (admittedly limited) experience with the Bug, and that holds true here. Also, great dig at the Spider-Man's satanic divorce, especially because of its offhanded brevity. So it's the funniest thing in the history of the universe ever.
An Aside- I don't have one here. Other than, seriously, Merrboy? I have no idea why that bugs me and yet I am totally okay with Aqualad, but still; seriously, Merrboy was a character who existed?
Insult On Your Person If You Don't Agree That This Comic Is Good- You deserve to end up like Merrboy if you don't like this comic.
Caveat- The presence of the Stupid, Stupid OMAC Things will probably irritate Cronin enough that his love of Giffen with a scripter comics will be tested a little. So that's worth weighing in your appraisal of this comic, I think. That and they are an affront to the one, true OMAC. Even Cheeks the Toy OMAC.
Random Thoughts On Comics:
I have mentioned here that I liked Angel: After the Fall a whole lot. That said, in spite of the high production values, I find the fact that IDW is asking for $21.99 for three issues which are just vignettes to be pretty obnoxious, especially since they left us on an awesome cliffhanger with the nend of volume one, and I would quite like to see where they're going with that, thank you very much. I'm trying really hard not to say they can eat a dick with that offering here, but it's just really hard to have any restraint on that end.
The best thing Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction (I'm eschewing the combined name here because I am just not in the mood to be that cute) for Iron Fist is make him a legacy hero, if only because there are years worth of stories in it. That alone took a pretty one note character and really expaned his horizons. Orson Randall alone has been able to support three one shots; we can all hope that the Pirate Queen of Pinghai Bay of Pinghai Bay, for instance, can get further exposure, too. Really, the sky's the limit there.
And hey, if we get stories that can be boiled down to "like Raymond Chandler, but with a guy who can make things explode with his fists", then boy howdy I will sure be a happy camper. I mean, I've only been able to read like 3 pages of that thing since picking it up Wednesday, but that's what I get out of it, and it is another reason I so love this bastard medium.
I've been gradually working my way through Death Note lately. I'm on volume six right now. There's a game changer in there that flipped the status quo around the cooled my enthusiasm for a bit, but it is one hell of a page turner.
Demo #11 was my favorite chapter in that book. Well, I have to read the final story, but I was simply have not been in the mood for it. It looks a little too precious to me, but I'm sure I'll come around to it eventually. That said, 11; right in my wheelhouse. It takes the hoary old slacker comedy and does it with a kind of style and emotional resonance that really appealed to me. So, good on Wood there. Becky Cloonan continued her artistic chameleon (pretty amazing) routine with her most heavily manga influenced (in that is incrediblyt expressive) entry in the book. It works perfectly for the story, though, which puts her miles ahead of most "Amerimanga" artists I've seen.
The Big Finish- I didn't promise you one, you don't deserve one, but here's Lisa Nova's youtube channel anyway. You know, if you haven't heard of her. Was I the last one? I never know.