NYCC week is here, which means a lot of work, but at least my day job is publishing its first print magazine for the event. Yay us! Besides that, lots of emailing, editing for future weeks, and planning personal stuff. Tomorrow is the EA Preview Event, where I’ll get to play the publisher’s upcoming line-up.
Yes, that means I’ll be playing Star Wars: Battlefront for the third time since it was first announced a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. I spent a big chunk of the afternoon playing the early access beta on PC today. My thoughts? It’s meh. That’s how I felt when I first played it at E3 during a 20-minute demo and how I feel now after several hours of the beta. It’s probably how I’ll feel tomorrow when I stand in line waiting for to play at the event.
What’s wrong with it? The biggest problem is that it’s incredibly safe, adding virtually nothing to the multiple shooter experiences that have released since the last Battlefront game in 2005. While I wouldn’t call it Battlefield with a Star Wars skin, I don’t think the license will be enough to keep people invested in the game for more than a couple of months. You’re looking at another Titanfall and Evolve. That said, I’ve only ever played three modes on three maps, which is only about a third of the game. But with a lack of story or real personality, unexceptional gunplay, and repetitive gameplay, I’m not sure there’s a reason to come back to this game.
Two things I will say about what I’ve played so far: the game looks gorgeous and sounds great. I’ve loved looking at the expanse of the maps, with their cavernous valleys and worn constructions, and up at the war-torn skies, a Mon Calamari Star Cruiser floating above as TIEs and X-Wings explode all around it. The game’s score is equally deserving of the Star Wars name. There are plenty of musical nods to the Original Trilogy, including “The Imperial March,” of course, but there are some original pieces as well that are quite good.
But anyway, I talk about video games on a daily basis. I also read some Batman comics over the weekend, including Batman Annual #4 by James Tynion IV, a Batman writer who is slowly growing on me. Known as the guy Scott Snyder brought to DC from Sarah Lawrence College, Tynion started off writing backup stories for the main Batman book during the New 52 relaunch, which weren’t too shabby. The first story, which took place during the Court of Owls arc, is about the history of the Pennyworth family. His second was a tie-in to Death of the Family. I found his Zero Year and Endgame stuff a bit less inspired, but it’s hard to follow-up Snyder, Greg Capullo, FCO, and Danny Miki when they’re at their very best. The uneven, boring, and unnecessary Batman Eternal, on the other hand, is close to the worst DC thing I’ve read since I picked up comics again.
But Tynion’s two Batman Annuals (#3-4) have been quite fun. Last year’s Endgame tie-in was an intriguing story about a reporter who gets in too deep with the Joker. If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good fiction story about journalism (Transmetropolitan, anyone?), and Tynion’s is certainly that.
This year’s annual isn’t quite the deep dive into the mind from Endgame, but it’s a nice companion piece to Superheavy, the current arc in the main book. It’s nice to follow Bruce again, even if it’s for a conventional setpiece inside Wayne Manor, which is no longer home to the criminally insane (I liked last year’s Arkham Manor, for the most part). I like how Bruce and Alfred still complement each other, even though Bruce has amnesia. That love and connection they have for each other is unbreakable, one of the things the annual wants to show. Of course, the other thing this arc is saying is that Bruce can never truly escape Batman, and the annual is true to that point. It’s good fun from beginning to end.
I’m really glad non-Capullo Batman month is over, though. I didn’t enjoy Batman #44 as much as I’d hoped, not necessarily JUST because of the art, although I didn’t like Jock’s art as much as his excellent recent work in Wytches. I just think the whole story was kind of a deviation from the great action in the arc so far. Batman #43 ended on a hell of a cliffhanger that I won’t spoil here, and I really don’t think Bloom’s “origin” really needed a whole, unique issue with different art, narrative style, and time jump. Snyder is clearly a brilliant writer who can weave whatever he wants into his awesome stories, and I know he had his reasons for making this story in the middle of the arc almost completely standalone, but it just didn’t connect with me...That said, a lot of the writing, spoken through the voice of Gotham (how cool the way Snyder plays with a city’s personality), is beautiful, especially the final lines.
So, overall, September was a good month for the main Batman book. But I’m excited to have the regular art team back and a bit more Babbit (as Capullo likes to call his Robo-Bat). I also read August’s issues of Robin: Son of Batman, which I really love so far, and Batgirl. I have We Are Robin #2 still waiting on my desk for a rainy day. I’m hoping to catch up on at least the first two series after NYCC.
Here’s something I’m considering:
I don’t get to do much in terms of comic book reviews (I’m probably not qualified to judge creators who are much more talented than myself) or Batman books specifically, so I’d like to do a monthly write-up of my thoughts on each month’s Bat-comics. I’d at least talk about the main Batman book, plus whatever spin-offs I’m reading. I’ll be picking up Batman & Robin Eternal this week, because I can’t fight the temptation to see what DC learned from the first weekly series.
So let’s say I’ll keep up with Batman, Batman & Robin Eternal, Batgirl, and Robin: Son of Batman and write about all of these issues (super informally) in one big monthly column. Fair warning, though: if I lose interest in any of these books, then it’s all over for that particular book’s write-up. Not gonna treat this blog like a job. That’s the whole point.
I read the newest issue of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s Nameless, which is just my favorite thing, even if I don’t know what the fuck is going on for most of it. Like a lot of Morrison’s work, it’s more about the concepts and ideas and less about any kind of logical narrative. (Points to whoever can explain what’s happening in this book. Seriously, tell me. I’m too dumb.) Speaking of which, I ordered trades for the first issues of both Morrison’s Doom Patrol and The Invisibles. Can’t wait to read all of the Morrison. Wouldn’t that be a good idea for another monthly column?
...Yeah, I’m going to bed. More soon.