By Courtney Ryan and Jarrod Jones. Our Week In Review sums up our weekly comic book coverage while squeezing in a new review or two before it’s all over. Did we miss your favorite books this week? Well. This is where you need to be.
Die Kitty Die! #1
Written and Illustrated by Fernando Ruiz and Dan Parent.
Inks by Rich Koslowski and J. Bone.
Colors by Glenn Whitmore.
Letters by Janice Chiang.
CR: What happens when two former Archie Comics artists team up to satirize their old employer and other comic publishers? You get a story about a cartoonishly sexualized teenage witch, hunted by the homicidal publisher of the comic book based on her life because, let’s face it, nothing sells like the violent death of a busty teen. It’s loads of fun and it’s eye-rollingly corny. Sound familiar?
Fernando Ruiz and Dan Parent have no doubt witnessed the ebb and flow of consumer interest and the sales-induced chaos that typically accompanies any long-running series, be it comic, TV show, or film. When consumers age out of the target demographic or simply drift on to new interests, the typical maneuver is to roll out a reboot that can hopefully snag a few headlines as well as readers. Sometimes these tweaks and overhauls are completely necessary and refreshing. Parent, for one, introduced Kevin Keller, Archie’s first openly gay character, to a widely receptive audience.
But sometimes a reboot can be so misguided it verges on criminal (let’s not even start with Harley Quinn). It’s the latter kind of reboot that Ruiz and Parent run with in Die Kitty Die #1 by giving us a publisher who’s literally trying to kill an iconic hero.
Subtlety is not a thing in Die Kitty Die, and that’s perfectly fine. If anything, it feels like Ruiz and Parent are winking at us through every brightly colored panel. Each character embodies a tired cliche, be it an outrageously curvy vixen or a hopelessly geeky bookstore employee, but the cartoonish look and feel of the pages only add to the fun of the story. If you’ve ever lamented the relaunch of a beloved character you’ll appreciate the industry commentary that’s present here. Plus, there’s a chance that the character will defeat her publisher’s cynicism about comic book readers, and that’s something to root for.
7 out of 10
Written by Tom King.
Art by Mikel Janin.
Colors by June Chung.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
JJ: Tom King is a helluva writer. This is where I would tell you to stop what you’re doing and go read Sheriff of Babylon if I hadn’t already done that at least a dozen times before. (Still, if you haven’t read it yet, somehow, definitely fix that.) After Rebirth, DC Comics’ Batman title found itself with a Scott Snyder-sized hole stamped inside of it. Filling that gap with a writer like Tom King seemed like a no-brainer. I was happy to see him taking on the title, and I’m still happy to see his name on the book.
His first arc, “I am Gotham”, did not in any way light my world on fire, and save for the gimmicky appeal of its premise, his collaboration with Steve Orlando on the Bat-crossover “Night of the Monster Men” was far too chaotic and inconsequential to be considered anything but disposable. In my estimation, Mr. King’s run on Batman thus far has yet to live up to its own hype (take that for what it’s worth), so it was with a checked enthusiasm that I entered his latest arc, titled rather precariously as “I am Suicide”.
The first chapter to “I am Suicide” is an odd duck of an issue. It springboards what will likely be an eventful arc (and a career high for artist Mikel Janin) while somehow standing completely still. There’s a few notable character moments, both for Batman and his kinda-sorta ultimate nemesis, Bane. There are also plenty of head-scratching moments. We’ll get to those in a minute.
The opening pages of Batman #9, which recount Bane’s unsettling origin story from Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s Vengeance of Bane one-shot, are the major-league highlights of this issue. Mikel Janin constructs his panels to maximize the weight of Bane’s monologue, which gives the big-time reveal of post-Rebirth Bane a chilling impact. While it certainly feels like King is showing off here — he places the villain, nude, atop a throne of skulls — I haven’t felt such dread emanating from this character since the last time he actually mattered, over twenty years ago.
As for the rest of the issue, I don’t know if King and Bat-editor Mark Doyle took a nap when they were leafing through the Who’s Who of the DC Universe, but here’s a gripe — Arnold Wesker, aka The Ventriloquist, is referred to as “Weskler” by both Jeremiah Arkham and the Batman this week. I’d be willing to chalk that up to a lettering snafu had it not happened twice. (The fact that Janin spells it “Weskler” on the prisoner’s jumpsuit makes it feel like a deliberate narrative choice.)
So what am I to make of it? Suppose I could dive down a rabbit hole in order to search for the narrative depth I’m not sure this issue has: If Weskler is another version of Arnold Wesker in “I am Suicide”, that would imply that reality isn’t quite what it should be, which would definitely explain the presence of a certain Arkham inmate who has been canonically not insane for the entirety of her villainous life. If “Weskler” is the key to this Elseworlds-esque Batman story, then it’s genius. If it’s not, then… well. Is it a dream? An imaginary tale? What the hell is going on with ‘Batman’ right now.
6.5 out of 10
From earlier this week —
What books did YOU read this week? We want to know! Tell us about those feelings of yours in the comments section below.