A bit of research reveals that Mike Marts is the editor on this book - and he was also the editor on New X-Men, so presumably gave us Kordey on NXM, too. He also edited Wolverine: Origin, which was, as we are all well aware, shit on toast.
THANKS A FUCKING LOT MIKE MARTS.
I've been pretty luck lately, doing a lot of reading of really great comics (ie. Woodring's FRANK, Jason's POCKET FULL OF RAIN) and....it is kind of embarrassing to get steamed up over corporate comics, which will chug along regardless of what any of us writes or says. I guess my only stake in this is I really enjoy Grant Morrison comics and I hate to see a maybe good one ruined by really sloppy art.
This issue offered a lot of opportunities for me to select some interesting camera angles. I like bird's eye level views, but only when we have a reason to be up top, over the scene. So I got the chance a couple times this issue to show that kind of vantage point, as well as some worm eye views too. Like a panel with Batman jumping down a stairwell. Lots of action, lots of questions answered this issue.
Well, here's a wonderful opportunity to state Ivan Brunetti's "5 C's of Cartooning" from CARTOONING: PRACTICE AND PHILOSOPHY. They are: Calligraphy, Composition, Clarity, Consistency, and Communication. In his review of this issue, Jog hits upon the utter lacking presence of those 5 principles...
But it also seems that Morrison is aiming for a cacophonous sort of action-and-revelation peak with this chapter, and the art team doesn't seem quite there to handle it. Penciller Tony Daniel is prone to some confusing layouts here, including a double-page setup (story pp. 6-7) that guides the eye directly to the right when it's supposed to be moving down, or a Wayne Manor action bit (story pp. 12-13) that introduces a dangerous element (a red telephone), sets up some 'countdown' suspense via word balloons, but then doesn't return to the element as the countdown is foiled, leaving characters to converse while the threat is disposed of off-panel, leading to some awfully odd pacing.
And lord - I read it over and over, and I simply could not tell what even happened to poor Señor Sombrero, until I read that he seemed to get tangled up in a homage to Dario Argento's Suspiria - apparently he crashes through an overhead window into a room the other villains are sitting in, while the Joker is walking in from the next room, although since we haven't seen that next room, nor has an overhead window been set up, nor do we even see that Mr. Brimmed Hat has landed anywhere for another nine or so pages of story, everything seems to be taking place in entirely distinct locations, with no notion of spatial unity present whatsoever.
You know, I thought we were bad off with Andy Kubert too. Now, when you really stop and think about it, the problem really isn't necesarrily all on Grant Morrison having bad luck with art teams (and he really does have bad luck), but maybe Morrison's move towards story and pacing experimentation, which I think have failed to work (compare the clarity, more traditional success of ALL STAR SUPERMAN with Frank Quitely, and the hit-and-miss FINAL CRISIS with JG Jones, and FINAL CRISIS: SUPERMAN BEYOND with Doug Mahkne). Go back and read the first issue of his BATMAN run, and that entire sequence with Batman/Fake Cop Batman/Joker getting shot in the head. It still really makes not a whole lot of sense...
So yeah, at this point this has all been a wildly inconsistent run. I think even JH Williams three issues of the book are really oversold as being better than they are, due to the surrounding circumstances (Kubert, Daniel, that Ra's Al Ghul crossover). I've said before that even a bad Grant Morrison comic is interesting enough....but I don't think I can really stand by that anymore. DC is making it pretty easy too, what with a series of miniseries and fill-ins coming up soon after RIP wraps up. I think that pretty soon I'm going to be coming to the point where I am not buying a Grant Morrison comic being published.
Bring on SEAGUY 2 and WAR COP, I say!
*Who I should remind the audience is the artist and mastermind behind THE TENTH and F5. He also has worked with Alan Moore on SPAWN: BLOODFEUD, which I remember thinking of was the greatest comic book ever when I was 13 (GIANT SNAKE MAN! GREG CAPULLO KNOCK-OFF!)