Subway Shorts – Nov. 20

As we kick off this Thanksgiving week, I am very thankful for all the people who check this site out regularly, and I hope that even more people discover it going forward. But more importantly, I have comics to review, with Superman dealing with the Super-sons coming together; Batman deals with a traitor; and Black Hammer gets a little weird.

Superman 11
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason 
Pencils by Patrick Gleason 
Inks by Mick Gray

superman-11A confession: I have never really liked the character of Damian Wayne. I’ve always seen the son of Batman as a character that takes all the worst parts of Bruce Wayne and puts into this little package of ego. In fact, I gave up on the new Rebirth Teen Titans book because it focuses on the new Robin and how he’s making the team his own in a post-Tim Drake DC Universe.

But Tomasi and Gleason are, in effect, the definitive Damian Wayne creators, having spent some time developing the character in “Batman & Robin,” so when they bring the kid in for a guest spot in Superman, well, I’ll pay attention.

The latest issue of Superman is the second half of a two-parter where Superman and Batman – two men who have history with people who look like the other – decide to make their sons into a team and into the friends they could be. The biggest obstacle in making that happen, of course, is Damian Wayne. Clark and Bruce have set up a series of obstacles for the kids and old them they need to work together to get through them. Instead, they fight and argue and get through by dumb luck because they’re kids. It doesn’t help that Damian doesn’t want Jon Kent around in any way.

I enjoyed the interplay between Damian and Jon and between Clark and Bruce, which hopefully bodes well for the upcoming “Super-Sons” book, starring Damian and Jon. As long as the tone remains lighthearted and playful, it should be a great opportunity to focus on the younger heroes.

Batman 11
Written by Tom King
Art by Mikel Janin

batman-11Meanwhile, over in Batman… Bruce has taken his own version of the Suicide Squad to Santa Prisca in his attempt to steal the Psycho Pirate away from Bane in order to save Gotham Girl. His plan seems to go about as well as the attempt to get Damian and Jon to work together over in Superman.

Yeah, it doesn’t go well… Or maybe it does…

Of course, that should probably be expected. Batman brought a bunch of bad guys who mostly have no loyalties to him. Punch and Jewelee turn on Bronze Tiger the first chance they get. And then Catwoman seems to completely blow the whole operation by slitting Punch and Jewelee’s throats and telling Bane Batman’s plan. Selina Kyle, who was heavily guarded in Arkham Asylum because she killed 237 people, attempts to make a deal with Bane in the hopes of wiping her slate clean and escaping without any other jail time. Cats don’t like captivity, after all.

Batman – watching all of this unfold from an undisclosed location – doesn’t seem to be pleased with how everything has gone down, but lulling his prey into a false sense of security seems to be his M.O. here with Bane, so I feel like an “Ocean’s 11” scenario wouldn’t be too shocking.

I’m mostly intrigued by the idea that Arnold Wesker – the human portion of The Ventriloquist who Batman also brought on the team – is the key to the team’s escape from Santa Prisca. This has been mentioned a couple of times and I’m really looking forward to how that gets paid off.

The latest issue of Batman is a middle chapter in “I AM SUICIDE,” the middle chapter of Tom King’s three-part story that started in “I AM GOTHAM” and will end with “I AM BANE,” so there’s a lot more action coming. This has the making of an epic Batman story, as Tom King has yet to disappoint with any of the issues he’s written.

Black Hammer 5
Written by Jeff Lemire 
Art by Dean Ormston

black-hammer-5The fifth issue of Jeff Lemire’s new superhero tale is another history lesson for a member of the team stuck on the farm. Each member of the team that we’ve met so far has been an analog for a better known character. The focus this time is on Col. Weird, who is a stand-in here for Adam Strange – a space explorer who has been sucked into something he isn’t really prepared for. Except instead of finding his true love and becoming a hero like Strange, the discovery of the Para-Zone has ruined Randy Weird’s life. Or maybe Col. Weird is what happens if the Negative Zone drives Reed Richards insane. I guess a case could be made either way.

The Para-Zone seems to allow Weird to access various points in time and space, but when and how he accesses everything doesn’t seem to be within his control – at least at first, though an older, weirder Weird seems to have somewhat grasped it. And the discovery of the Para-Zone has legitimately destroyed Weird’s life. He lost his true love, he lost his mind. And he still can’t seem to help his friends get off the farm where they’ve been imprisoned.

The latest issue of Black Hammer is probably the most heartbreaking issue of the series thus far, showing a man who is trapped in more than one way. Even if the team gets away from the farm, Weird will still be stuck with the Para-Zone and what it’s done to his life.

The most shocking part of this issue, to me? Robot Walky-Talky identifies as a female! I didn’t see that coming, although maybe I should have.

We’re about to run out of characters to give history lessons on, which leaves me to wonder where the book goes once Lemire and Ormston establish all the back stories. I want to assume that we move forward towards trying to get off the farm, but they’ve been there so long that there’s any number of stories to tell about their time before the farm.

Either way, I have faith in what Lemire’s doing.