With this weekend comes the biggest comics event of the year, Comic Con! And with Comic Con, comes news and hints of upcoming stuff like comics from the DCnU reboot and Batman: Arkham City! And with that news, comes... many questions. Important, strange, nagging, bothersome, deeply annoyed (and perhaps annoying!) questions.
Let's start with the new Batman: Arkham City game trailer, featuring the Penguin and a very special guest:
Whuh... why is the Penguin cockney? Not just cockney, but Dick-Van-Dyke-fake cockney? Are they trying to channel Bob Hoskins from The Long Good Friday? If I thought for one second that they were, I'd actually respect that choice, as much as it spectacularly fails in execution. But since I don't think that they're that clever, then why?
But as much as that boggles my mind, it's nothing compared to this image from Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder's* Batman #1 from the post-reboot DCU:
Why does the Scarecrow have button eyes? How does he see?!
And.. and why is the Riddler now Mr. Zsasz (if they're scars) or Loeb's Calendar Man from Dark Victory (if they're tattoos)? And in either case, why the mohawk? Why is the fact that his mask is green and not purple the LEAST offensive thing about this image? Why do people constantly fuck with making the Riddler look gritty and dark when the suit-and-bowler combo is pretty damn well one of the most perfectly constructed Batman villain costumes ever designed? Why screw with it? Why always with the Dark!Riddler?
And Harvey. Jesus, Harvey. Why oh why does he look like a zombie out of a 1970's Italian horror film? That's not acid scarring. He's molting. I'd hoped that the penciled image would look better with inks and colors, but no, it looks predictably worse. And with black hair too? Why?
And-and-and Mr. Freeze! Why are we going back to the Super Powers Action Figure version of the character? Y'know, the loser they killed off before TAS made him an amazing character with all that characterization that no one in the comics remembered to use after that?
And why is Professor Pyg now up in the front row with the likes of Harvey and Squishy? Why is Professor Pyg even a POPULAR villain now? He's a nothing of a character! He's a Grant Morrison creation who was made to be a wacky, insane play on Pygmalion and... pretty much nothing else. He's not a person, he has no real motivation, he's just an empty villain who has thus far only served to be weird and creepy and nothing else. Until he gets the TAS treatment and becomes an actual human being with motivations and depth, why the hell is he enduring as a character?!
Why? Why? WHY?
Well, at least we have humanoid Croc back. And hey, more importantly, it looks like we also have Arnold Wesker back as well! If the little appearance of his makeshift puppet pal Mr. Socko in the top right corner there wasn't indication enough, Arnold makes a full appearance in the next preview page as the poor guy gets a boot to the head courtesy of surrealname as the Joker, who is apparently teaming up with Batman:
The only thing I don't hate about this art is the way Capullo draws Batman himself, using a clean and minimal style that resembles Rick Burchett's. But his Rogues are just ugly, ugly, ugly.
So if Arnold Wesker, the original Ventriloquist, has returned to life (after a death that was so definitive that it's pretty impossible to undo), I take this to mean that DC's pretty much full of shit and that the Batman books are undergoing a retcon. For one thing, this means that Batman: Face the Face is now out of continuity, or at least large chunks of it are. What does this mean for Harvey? Probably nothing, since DC seemed hellbent on ignoring the hell out of all that story's dangling plot threads. They're just going to drop it entirely, which might not be so bad, considering.
Then again, maybe Wesker's inexplicable (from what little we know) return to life doesn't signify a rebooted continuity, since after all, Poison Ivy died in the pages of Batman: Gotham Knights, and everyone pretty much ignored that when she returned in Face the Face. Or maybe the reboot just counts for the characters who aren't involved in Grant Morrison's precious, precious work, which is to say, the Rogues, and therefore, pretty much ALL the characters I care about.
So what do we know about the state of the Batman characters in the DCnU? Still pretty much nothing, but I'm decidedly more annoyed now than I was before, when I was just aggressively apathetic and mildly concerned about the immediate future of these characters I love. If these comics and this game are the current state of Batman stories, I get the feeling I'm not going to enjoy any new Bat-related stuff for some time.
*I've heard nothing but amazing things about Scott Snyder's current work on Detective Comics, especially the James Gordon Jr. storyline, but I'm afraid to read it. Everything I've heard makes it sound far too bleak for my enjoyment, especially considering that someone's finally remembered that James Jr. exists only to turn him into, what, a sociopath monster? Is that what happened? Has anyone else been following 'Tec, and can you tell me if it lives up to its hype?