I wasn’t impressed with Tom King’s I Am Gotham, but his second Bat-collection, BATMAN: I am Suicide, is way worse. The plot involves an implausible mission to rescue the emotion-bending Psycho-Pirate from Bane because his powers do better at healing Gotham Girl’s anguish than drugs (which raises the old question, why not just pay him to treat everyone with major emotional issues?). It wasn’t great, but King then layers on lots of pretentious waffling about Batman and Catwoman and hiding behind masks and knowing each other’s inner selves oh, and it wasn’t the Waynes’ death that created Batman but Bruce’s decision to almost commit suicide. Which actually worked better than I thought, but that’s not the same as saying it worked. For one thing, if Batman’s motive is to save the despairing rather than avenge his parents, King’s version should be radically different from anything we’ve seen in about 30 years (at least). And it isn’t. Overwrought and pretentious.
BITCH PLANET: The Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro hybridizes The Handmaid’s Tale with a women-in-prison picture: in a dystopian patriarchal future, “noncompliant” women (non-submissive, overweight, lesbian, etc.) are shipped to the title prison colony. When some of them are recruited into a sports competition, is it a chance to rebel, or a scheme by the authorities to wipe them out? Very good, particular some of the subtler moments. An official refuses to refer to one prisoner’s mother as anything but Mrs. [husband’s name]. A woman in a restaurant cringes when a man takes offense at what he thinks her expression is. I look forward to more. Cover by De Landro, all rights remain with current holder.
PRINCELESS: Be Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin and Brett Grunig has Adrienne try to rescue her boy-crazy sister Angoisse, only to discover Angoisse has found true love. Unfortunately said lover has an agenda of his own … Meanwhile Adrienne’s companions have to deal with a tribe of goblins threatened by a swamp monster. The usual fun from this series.
RASL: The Fire of St. George by Jeff Smith didn’t work as well for me as the first volume. While the story of Rasl trying to outrun the government agents pursuing him for his multiversal knowledge is god, this devotes way too much space for a reverential biography of Nikola Tesla as the super-genius who figured out radio, electricity and the wireless transmission of electricity — which in Smith’s version accidentally created the Tunguska fireball. While Smith is free in an SF story to make Tesla as amazing as he wants, he seems to believe his super-genius is reasonably plausible, and I’m skeptical. Still looking forward to Vol. 3 though.