July started out a slow month for comics: two comics in the first week, two comics in the second week. Not that my bank account is complaining (although I still bolster my collection with plenty of trade paperbacks, unfortunately …), but it makes these posts short.
Batman and Robin #13
Oh, Mr Morrison: you are a tease. Starting a story in media res, with ‘Mr Thomas Wayne’ shooting Dick Grayson in the head, then ‘Three days earlier’, and then the story doesn’t finish in this issue – that’s just cruel. He’s definitely having more fun on this writing this book, from the scenes with the Joker and the dialogue between Dick and Jim Gordon, but still maintaining his quality of tricky plotting and storytelling. I really liked Frazer Irving’s art on this issue – his dark but smooth painted style suited the story really well, doing a particularly excellent Joker, all terrifying rictus and a white face that looks as alien as you would expect in real life.
I felt rather cheap reading this; I’m not even sure why I bought it. My stupid affection for the Chris Claremont X-Men of my youth certainly played its part, but the mere idea of Milo Manara – the famous erotic artist – drawing a straight superhero comic for Marvel seemed too odd not to own it. It is a Chris Claremont X-Men book, with an emphasis on the strong women for which he was rightly known, so it is exactly the sort of thing you would expect from him, with plentiful dialogue, tough-girl monologues and liberal use of Madripoor. However, this book is all about Manara’s art, and it’s weird: the implied sexuality of comic book characters is nothing new, although here it is taken to the edge of that boundary, but not to the obvious limits of the actual eroticism of a usual Manara book. There are plenty of shots of bottoms in tight clothing, or poking out of the end of t-shirts or short dresses, or in barely-there clothing. But the art style makes you expect more, in a dirty way, as if they should be doing something more X-rated, if you’ll pardon the pun. You half expect them to have an orgy when you turn the page, which makes you feel sordid for thinking that, and then sordid for feeling disappointed for it not happening. It is not a good comic book, but it is an unusual one.