Comic Discussions: Brubaker’s Cap v Morrison’s Bats #13

By Christopher Franey & Rafael Encinas

Hello Comic Book Champions!  Rafa and I are back for another rousing round of Ed Brubaker’s Captain America with focus on The Trial of Captain America (collecting issues 611-615 & 615.1 of volume 1) and Batman Eye of the Beholder (collecting issues 704-707 & 710-712) by Tony Daniel during the Grant Morrison/Dick Grayson Batman era.  In these tales we get to see the “sidekicks” bring the action/drama/suspense to our classic mantles in all new adventures with the past coming back to haunt us, but have hope as it does not always define us!  So to make this easier, Rafa’s sage wisdom will be in ITALIC FONT and I will be in BOLD FONT.  Rafa why don’t you start and share your thoughts on Dick Grayson’s adventures in this tpb?  

Batman Eye of the Beholder tpb

Thank you, Chris! I’m not going to lie. I was a bit wary about reading this volume of Batman because I wasn’t a big fan of Tony Daniel’s previous Batman story. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these issues. What I appreciated most about this tpb was how it was connecting back to Morrison’s writing from The Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. The dreaded Sensei is back, and we get a cool little story about ancient evil masks and the quest for immortality. Overall, the art was great and watching Dick command the page was a lot of fun. I especially liked how it brought in the fact that Bruce had returned from the dead and that there were now two Batmen! My favorite scene in this whole tpb is at the beginning of this story where Bruce shows up and basically reprimands Dick for letting Selena and her new protege, Catgirl, run around loose in Gotham. It is such an interesting moment because we get to see the strange new dynamic that Bruce and Dick share due to his return. I liked this moment because I think it made Dick realize the added responsibility of having the original Batman watching over you; talk about pressure.

Batman vol 1 #704

The second part to this story is an interesting coming together of Batman’s rogues gallery as they try to one-up one another in a strange duel for Gotham. Two-Face is back and so is his dead wife apparently. The Riddler is up to no good with his sadistic “daughter” as they cause chaos. And then there is Mario Falcone who thinks he can outplay these two psychopaths. It feels like an old school Batman story filled with its own noir mystery, but we get to see how Dick as Batman navigates it. Overall, I really enjoyed these stories because they didn’t feel like super important stories. They felt like natural everyday adventures Batman would have. It is a nice change of pace after so many weeks of apocalyptic events. Chris, what were your thoughts on Batman this week?

I found this TPB collection interesting; the first story, Eye of the Beholder, was very interesting and I love how it was similar to Bucky’s adventure back in Time’s Arrow (issues 43-45 of vol 5 or the Man with No Face tpb).  They both had to deal with events in time that are well beyond their adventures as the main hero but they do hold their own and even save the day.  You’re right Rafa about the tie in with Ra’s and Sensei being a great draw in to the adventures that were there; like it helped to cement that Gotham does need it’s own Batman and while Bruce is globe trotting it makes total sense that Grayson is the man for the job.  That set of pages you referenced was perfect as it does show the amount of pressure that Grayson will have but the story does a great job of showing how he’ll live up to it and overcome it.  

Batman vol 1 #705

One of the best things about Tony Daniel writing Grayson as Batman as that Nightwing’s presence is still there but also…Dick Grayson matters!  Like his secret identity life is actually important and he has character which is something I enjoyed when Grayson wasn’t in costume.  The second story about the Riddler, Two Face, and Falcone was interesting and I did enjoy that it was trying to tie back into Batman the Long Halloween but sadly was cut very short since the DC Universe was ending.  How’s that you ask?  Well this trade collects the last couple of issues of Batman volume 1 right before the Flashpoint that leads us to New 52.  So while it had merit I feel like it abruptly ended since it seemed like things wouldn’t matter in the new universe, hence Riddler’s Daughter’s death…like that was sudden and woah!  What I do find interesting was the issues that weren’t collected like 708, 709, 713. 

Batman vol 1 #709

I don’t know if you read them Rafa but the cross over in 708 and 709 was called Judgement on Gotham by David Hine and crossed over with Red Robin and Catwoman.  I did find myself enjoying it as it really tested Grayson, Drake, and Selina while showing just how crazy the new Azreal (aka Bat-Devil) could be.  It was an interesting tale of how we can internalize evil or justify evil which was great to examine with the three Bat Family members.  So I would like to give a shout out to those issues but also give a warning to those to avoid Batman #713 as it read off like a poor man’s version of Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? story.  Such a shame that one of DC’s longest running books got that for an ending.  So we’re in an era of flux as we’ve seen Grant Morrison end Batman, Inc and now Batman ends for New 52…Rafa what do you think of how things went for this volume before the Scott Synder New 52 relaunch?

Batman vol 1 #704

You know, it’s quite perplexing. I agree that it’s a shame that this illustrious Batman title run ended on such a whimper. For me, I never got to read these stories, so getting all this context has been eye-opening. It’s crazy how all the build up with Batman Incorporated and Dick Grayson as Batman just ends so abruptly. I like to think of it as a consequence of Barry during the Flashpoint. In that way, you can kind of sweep all of it under the carpet. But I like how Morrison continued his Batman Incorporated book while everything else was relaunched. I think this was overall a necessary sacrifice, because we get thrown right into the action with Scott Snyder’s vision of Batman. I thought it was a smart move to put us right into the story instead of doing another origin. Overall, this stuff was a lot of fun to read. These stories felt like fun “low-stakes” storytelling that was easily digestible. Which is very different to the explosive awesomeness of Ed Brubaker’s Trial of Captain America. Chris, please give us your insights on this glorious story! 

The Trial of Captain America tpb

So talk about being put up in some dire straits…like Bucky can’t catch a break at all!  Baron Zemo and Sin (both legacy characters themselves) just couldn’t stand the fact that Bucky is earning his redemption as the new Captain America and they are doing him dirty.  Now granted all of Bucky’s activity as the Winter Soldier did get a free pass but I think this story did something fantastic that needed to happen.  It wasn’t just Bucky having to face his past; we’ve seen that especially with Zemo’s attack and really getting Bucky to wake up and decide if he is waiting for someone to put a bullet in his head or will he choose life?  That was beautiful and I think he is a better person for it, but sadly his friends haven’t faced the facts; while Tony Stark and Steve Rogers mean well by destroying the Winter Soldier files it doesn’t give the victims justice…and Bucky is one of those victims.  

Captain America vol 1 #611

I choose this page as it shows that Bucky knows what is the right thing to do and even Steve doesn’t want to face it.  No shame at Steve but wow that really showed some growth on Bucky’s part as I really think if this had been two story arcs ago, Bucky probably would’ve run.  Now when he goes to trial holy crow that is a storm; but I’m glad to be rereading this issue as with things in modern times (the comics were Oct 2010 and here we are in Oct 2020) it goes to show things haven’t changed.  I love how the story is shared by all as well.  We can see how Sam, Steve, and Natasha are coming together to do what they can to save someone they all love and I think bringing back Cap’s ex, Bernie Rosenthal, to be Bucky’s lawyer was just brilliant!  Also the villainy that is oozing from Sin is just too much. She is such a c-word but I do love how this is building up towards a future story we will be reading, Fear Itself.  Rafa what did you get from this collection?  

You put it perfectly into words, Chris. This was a delight to read. Here we are, thirteen weeks into these reads, and Ed Brubaker continues to deliver outstanding and heartfelt narratives like it’s an easy feat. Overall, The Trial of Captain America read sublimely. Seeing Bucky put on trial for things he did while under the influence of mind control was intense. Like you said, this story was written ten years ago and still somehow feels hauntingly as important now as it did back then. Seeing Steve do everything in his power to help his best friend was nice, and I absolutely loved Faustus in this story. Seeing him mind control the prosecutor in the courtroom and then helping a Bucky escape felt cool, and I never thought I would have any positive feelings for this bastard. It goes to show you just how well Brubaker fleshes out his characters and his stories. Everything feels important. Nothing misses a beat. 

As for Bucky, this story does a great job at showing just how much he has grown as a person.  You can see the good that the symbol of Captain America has done for his mindset. Seeing himself willing to parade around in this trial really says a lot of his character and his resolve. It made me appreciate the character that much more. Overall, this was an awesome story, and I am happy I got to experience it. Any last thoughts, Chris?

Captain America vol 1 #615

I like that time recap you did as it has been 13 weeks of this and Ed Brubaker really did an amazing job with the Captain America comic while he was writing it.  He really did a lot for Bucky Barnes but right now we are going to see some dark days ahead especially with that cliffhanger of an ending.  I am actually worried what is going to happen next but not physically to Bucky as I know he can defend himself and figure a way out, but I worry what this will do to his soul and his mind…as he is finally getting those back it’ll be such a shame to see these demons come for him, but with his friends I think it is going to be quite the feast for us to read.  

Well that wraps around set of stories that we have shared our thoughts on, we hope you enjoy the discussion and join us next week as we read Batman and Robin: Dark Knight vs White Knight tpb by Paul Cornell, Pete Tomasi, and Judd Winick alongside Captain America Corps tpb by Roger Stern.  So while Grant Morrison and Ed Brubaker take a break next we Rafa and I will still be at it and you can always interact with us on Twitter and we would love to share your thoughts and opinions on these stories too.  You can find Rafa on twitter as @Mobilerafie and myself as @StuffIShudSay, as always thank you for joining us here at Geek Elite Media and GEEK OUT!

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