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9/28 – Selective Selleck Says…

The just-completed three-issue “Club of Heroes” arc by Grant Morrison and J.H. Williams III is the best Batman story in at least 15 years.

Selective Selleck.jpg

38 Comments

If you’re talking in continuity, maybe so. But I’d go with either Gotham Noir, Detective 27 or Nine Lives.

I disagree — several of the better Batman: The Animated Series episodes and comics post-1992 are better then “The Club of Heroes.” I can also recall a couple of Batman stories I enjoyed as much or more without trying too hard — Brubaker’s “Made of Wood” story in Detective Comics comes readily to mind.

Mind you, I didn’t like “Club of Heroes” anywhere near as much as… well, seemingly everybody else, so maybe my tastes are suspect.

Hmmm…let me check your math.

Fifteen years is September 1992, right?

Going just by the main titles (Batman, Detective, Shadow of the Bat, Legends of the Dark Knight and Gotham Knights)…

So that’s the whole Az-Bats thing…a nice little run when Batman comes back (by Dixon, Moench and Grant)…then a lot of crossovers…then Rucka’s Detective, Brubaker’s Batman and Detective, Vaughan’s short arc…Dini…Morrison’s earlier issues…

Yeah, I think your math checks out (even if the last part was a good deal poorer than the first two), at least on the main (in continuity) titles. A one-shot or mini-series may have slipped through the cracks.

What was the story 15 years ago?

I think the Knightfall++ stuff is good. Plus we had great runs on Robin and Nightwing that got me regularly reading comics. Doug Moench did some good Batman too. ‘Such as his story with Killer Croc and Swamp Thing.

That’s a lot of stories for me to decide “best in 15 years.” I haven’t completed “Club of Heroes,” but Batman #666 was one of the better Batman stories I’ve read in a few years. ‘So you give me high hopes.

I hope you don’t drop this declaration lightly on a blog titles “Comics Should Be Good!”

I still haven’t been in to pick up my copy of the last part of the story! Based on what I’ve seen so far, I wouldn’t rate it as the best in the past fifteen years- there’s been way too many great DCAU Batman stories for that, not to mention the Moench/Jones run- but I would say it’s right up there, and the art is especially amazing. Apparently the last part brings the story down a lot, though- I’ll have to see for myself!

No offense meant to Daniel, but I thought Gotham Noir was one of the less good Batman stories I’d read in the past decade and a half. Like, maybe down at the 45th percentile.

I’m intrigued by what I’ve been hearing about Club of Heroes

I still maintain that Arkham Asylum and Gothic is the best Morrison’s Batman story in almost two decades.

I’m such a whorrison. ;-)

Um guys, thats not an opinion its an objective statement. This was the best Batman story in the past 15 years.

At its heart a very simple yet great detective story with so much more going on with the characters, art, and more. Fantastic story.

I’m a fan of Grant Morrison, but I don’t think that story even sits in the top 10 of Batman stories of the past 15 years. I didn’t think the story was that strong, and the last issues had serious flaws. For one, the storytelling of the art was confusing. Also, that last issue was just too quickly paced to get the story across effectively.

Too bad it rips off “And Then There Were None”. And it’s a bit confusing to follow.

Too bad it rips off “And Then There Were None”.

Which is a “rip-off” of an old chilren’s story, if you wanna play that game.

No offense meant to Daniel, but I thought Gotham Noir was one of the less good Batman stories I’d read in the past decade and a half.

Rapiers at dawn, sir!

I will backtrack on Gotham Noir inasmuch as it’s really much more a Gordon story than a Batman story, but I still think it’s good.

I think it is one of the best Batman stories I have read, that was actually published in the real… honest to God… actual… BATMAN Comic book; and not a special, a one-shot or a limited series.

I think Rucka and Brubaker had some decent issues, oddly enough, they were often “fill in one-shots” in between their arcs.

As for the last 15 years, I can name a couple of stories that were head and shoulders above the Club of Heroes.

1- There’s the original Batman/Grendel two shot. A masterpiece. (And the Batman/Grendel Prime was great too.)

2- There’s also the Legend of the Dark Knight Halloween Specials. I believe one was called Masks and the other Ghosts. This was before the Long Halloween and Dark Victory, and they were good.

But like I said, Club of Heroes is one of the Best Batman Stories to come out of the regular Batman Comic Book in a long time.

I’m sorry, but the final chapter of the “Club of Heroes” story arc was way too brief, muddled, and confusing to be considered “the best Batman story of the past 15 years.” I enjoyed the first two chapters a great deal, though.

Just about everything Matt Wagner has done with Batman during the last 15 years is much better than “Club of Heroes.” “The Long Halloween” is also superior.

I want to second Batman/Grendel.

Am I the only one who didn’t think The Long Halloween was all that hot?

Haha, “Selective Selleck,” that’s great.

Anyway, have yet to read the conclusion to “Club of Heroes,” but I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’ll have to wait till then to say whether or not it’s “the best Batman story in at least 15 years,” but there’s been a lot of enjoyable Bat-material that’s come out during that time.

OK, yeah. I laughed out loud at Selective Selleck.

And I basically, agree with Res above, to the point that I think that is the most intelligent statement I’ve ever heard from anyone who’s internet handle has a bunch of numbers in it.

Loved chapter 1 + 2. Kinda let down by 3.

Still, this story was the first time in my life I’ve ever bought an actual issue of the Batman comic. So that should count for somethin’.

I probably would have preferred it if a different artist were drawing it….J.H. Williams’ art seems to switch styles every panel, from cartoony to realist, gritty lines to smooth, multicolored to stark black and white, etc.

I’m in awe of his range, but the story would have read much better if the artist drew it consistently.

I thought that parts 1 & 2 were AWESOME, but I agree with the above criticisms of part 3. Muddled storytelling, and kind of hasty. If not for the let-down in the last part, I would agree with our man Tom.

I’m echoing what everyone else has said about the Moench/Jones run. The Swamp Thing/Grundy, Deadman, and Man-Bat arcs were all very very good. Plus the finale of KnightQuest when Bruce takes down AzBats doesn’t get nearly enough credit, especially with the beautiful Barry Kitson art.

The Bob Gale/Alex Maleev No Man’s Land arc was really amazing as well.

I think people also don’t realize just how great the Rucka/Martinborough run on Detective was as well. Especially everything before the ‘Bruce Wayne’ crossovers.

Count me among those who didn’t care for the conclusion. If you mean any Batman story of any kind, I don’t see how that’s possible. There’s been a lot of crap over that period, but a lot of the stuff people mentioned above has been really good. I like Morrison ok, but obviously not as much as some of the people here.

I’m not sure what’s more gratuitous; your sucking up to Morrison, your attempt to start debate, or that picture of a bare chested Tom Selleck. I’m not saying there’s wrong with any of these things, mind you, but they’re still gratuitous.

“The BEST BATMAN STORY in 15 YEARS” deserves a more thorough analysis (not just review) on COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD than a brief Tom Selleck comment.

I’d have to say I thought both Batman/Grendel and Batman and the Monster Men were better overall Batman stories than Club of Heroes, but you have to factor in my overwhelming Matt Wagner fanboyism there. He’s one of the rare talents that is both one of my favorite artists and favorite writers, and his interpretation of Batman is one of the definitive ones for me.

If you wanted to say “Club of Heroes” was Morrison’s best Batman yet, then sure, no contest. Best Batman, period, in the past fifteen years? It would probably have a hard time coming out on top in the past FIVE years, let alone three times that much…

So was did Wingman switch costumes with the Australian guy? Or was the Australian guy Wingman all along?

Whose face did the rich guy use in the first issue?

Not the best Batman in 15 years though. It was about as solid as Dixon Nolan run, no more, no less. I liked the story but using the club of heroes probably alienated 50% of the usual readers of Batman.

Am I the only one who didn’t think The Long Halloween was all that hot?

Nope. I’m with you 100%. That’s why I excluded the series and focused on the Original One-Shots. As far as I’m concerned the Long Halloween was crap. When it was all said and done, it made as much sense as a Wookie on Endor.

Hell, “Hush” was even better than the Long Halloween.

I loved Long Halloween, but I realize it was crap. It’s a guilty pleasure.

Still haven’t read part 3 of “Club of Heroes,” (enjoyed pt 1 & 2) but Morrison hasn’t made me care about what happens to the characters the same way Rucka did in Detective. The Sasha stories, Batman/ Huntress: Cry for Blood, and the better parts of No Man’s Land got under my skin. “Club of Heroes” is fun, sure, but (unless something in part 3 kicks it to another level) I haven’t become invested in the fates of the faux-Batmen.

As Morrison’s run is the only Batman I’ve read in the last fifteen years, I don’t feel qualified to judge. It was all right I suppose, but I have no idea if these were supposed to be existing characters or whether Morrison just made them all up.

The art was nice.

You’re saying that this is the best batman story I’ve read in my life (give or take a couple years)? What about Batman Year 100 or something?

The BEST BATMAN STORY in 15 YEARS” deserves a more thorough analysis (not just review) on COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD than a brief Tom Selleck comment.

Althouh the Selleck thing doesn’t bother me at all, I kind of agree that it deserves a more thorough review.

I’m desperate to avoid doing actual work, so, hey, what the hell. Replies!

First, in general: Yes, there have been good Batman stories over the past 15 or so years, but probably none as good as this one. I picked ’15’ because it’s a multiple of five. I was calling back to the fact that the Club of Heroes story was probably the best thing since the days of Grant, Breyfogle, Milligan, and Aparo in the very early 90s.

In the meantime, we’ve had Dixon/Nolan and Moench/Jones and the early part of the Rucka/Martinbrough run, but, while they were good, they weren’t as good as Club of Heroes. Also, I didn’t count the animated series or Batman Begins, both of which would be high on the list. And I didn’t count Gotham Central, because it’s not a “Batman” story.

Also, I wouldn’t have even considered anything by Jeph Loeb. At all. I did, however, watch a good chunk of Teen Wolf today. Woo.

Ash said:

For one, the storytelling of the art was confusing. Also, that last issue was just too quickly paced to get the story across effectively.

I felt the art told the story perfectly well, and had no problems with it. In fact, I think the art is what elevates the story to its lofty position. While, yes, I would’ve loved the story to go on for another issue, the third act was well done; all the dominoes fell at once, and every character got their shining moment.

Nitz said:

I probably would have preferred it if a different artist were drawing it….J.H. Williams’ art seems to switch styles every panel, from cartoony to realist, gritty lines to smooth, multicolored to stark black and white, etc.

I’m in awe of his range, but the story would have read much better if the artist drew it consistently.

What? Egads, sir! The art is what makes the story. Williams draws each character in a different style to represent the fact that they’re all facets of Batman, stuck in various eras of comic book history: Gaucho is Chaykin, Knight is McGuinness, Wingman is Gibbons, etc. Only Batman is the complete one, and drawn in Williams’ usual style.

The art adds layers to the story. And the best thing is, it was all Williams’ idea! Cool beans. Much like Seven Soldiers #1, this Batman story stands as more than just a cool comics story– it’s an art object. I love it. If anyone else drew it, it wouldn’t have been as good. It wouldn’t be the best Batman story in ages.

yo go re said:

It would probably have a hard time coming out on top in the past FIVE years, let alone three times that much…

I can’t think of anything from the last five years which even comes close to the quality of this story. Examples?

The Cosh said:

It was all right I suppose, but I have no idea if these were supposed to be existing characters or whether Morrison just made them all up.

They were pre-existing, yes; Morrison lifted them from an old 50s story, “The Batmen of Many Nations.” They hadn’t appeared since, however, so G-Mozz gave them a nice coat of revamp and treated them as if they’d been having adventures all this time.

This story is perfect Batman. Detective work, big action, and, yes, JETPACKS– it’s finally the return of Morrison’s Uber-Bat. Batman inspires the other heroes to become better men. Man-of-Bats really kicks ass in the third one. Gaucho is cool as hell. Even the Legionary gets a moment or two, and he doesn’t make it out of the first act.

Also, Tom Selleck = The Sex. I admit to my man-crush.

“Also, I didn’t count the animated series or Batman Begins, both of which would be high on the list.”
Out of curiosity, why wouldn’t you include them? Aren’t they stories, too?
I really have to get the last part of this, to see if it’s as bad as everybody’s saying… based on the first two parts, I’d agree that it was brilliant, but if the last part makes a mess of things, then it’s just another very good Morrison comic undermined by confusing storytelling and an anti-climactic ending.
Hopefully I’ll love it, though, like a good Whorrison.

It falls apart in the third issue. It’s too muddled, too rushed. The explosion early on is handled poorly– it looks like it kills three character, but apparently only even affects one. We go from Beryl asking “Where’s Cyrl” to Cyrl, who just had surgery performed on him mind you, just there. The first two parts are certainly fabulous, but this was a reall let down. Morrison’s initial two part arc, with the Leichsteins and Hirst-esque artwork providing background commentary was far far better.

It occurred to me that it’s not really fair to say ‘but what about the animated series, Bill?’ without actually providing an example.

With that in mind, I hold up ‘Perchance to Dream’ as the best Batman story of the past fifteen years, Moore swipes be damned.

Rohan makes a good point, to wit:

“Perchance to Dream,” “Heart of Ice,” “Over the Edge,” “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm,” “Growing Pains” (more of a Robin story then a Batman story, but still), “Joker’s Favor,” “Mad Love,” and “House and Garden” are all, in my opinion, better then “The Club of Heroes.” And that’s not even getting into the DCAU comics, which is a whole other, also very fertile, area.

I just don’t think it’s terribly fair to not count them — they’re Batman stories, and they’re brilliantly conceived and creative ones.

Although, that said, I believe there are better Batman stories in the mainline comics as well, including the aforementioned “Made of Wood,” bits and pieces of “No Man’s Land,” “Batman: Year 100,” and a few others I could dredge up had I the energy.

Those are all amazingly great episodes, Patrick (and, in the case of ‘Phantasm’, a great movie.

‘Mad Love’ (the comic, I mean, not the adaptation) would have been released in the last fifteen years, right? I guess it’s more of a Joker story than a Batman story, though.

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