Tonal Schizophrenia Inc.

I’ve used this term before, coined by (as far as I know) Dan Wiessenberger’s review of Grand Theft Auto 4. Sometimes a piece of media just doesn’t seem to have decided what it wants to be, and so it presents such a scattershot, unfocused narrative that you have no sense of definition. The RedLetterMedia review of Star Wars: Episode 3 brings this up too, though it doesn’t use that exact phrase. But in general, the gist is that the first few minutes of Ep3 do a really poor job of setting the tone for the rest of the movie.

It’s a slow week for comics, so I only picked up two, one of which was the first issue of Batman Inc. I tend to at least sample every Batman book. Some don’t work out (The Dark Knight, Detective Comics), but others have become part of my rotation (Batman, B&R). No harm in giving one a shot and seeing if I like it. And I was hopeful for Batman Inc, since I like the idea but wasn’t into comics before the N52 reboot.

Tonal schizophrenia: when a story seems to have no idea what it wants to be. Is this a screwball comedy? A dark drama? A buddy cop flick? Batman Inc seems to want to be all three, all in the course of one book, sometimes in the course of one page. It jumps from slapstick, goofy expressions, and Robin pouting to incredibly dark, grisly scenes and serious motifs. And this isn’t joyful revelry interrupted by a sudden tragedy; it’s constant revelry and constant tragedy, swapping back and forth. The narration is incredibly unclear and the dialogue seems overwritten. Batman and Robin are both too talkative, both to outsiders and each other. The story is unfocused and doesn’t connect its scenes together in any kind of coherent way. It’s trying to shove so much stuff into one comic that when the ending comes, it has no emotional punch. By that point, I had emotional whiplash from all the messages I had been fed.

So, another Batman comic joins the “no” pile. Maybe the strongest no yet, and if you know my opinion on Detective Comics, that is saying something.

Flash this week may have finally lost me. I love the art and the character, but the book just keeps shifting so rapidly that we as the audience have nothing to hold on to. The rules of the universe seem to change, inexplicably, every issue. We get new characters dropped in and old characters dropped out on a dime. It has no stability. Maybe that’s what they’re going for — some kind of meta-commentary on Flash himself — but it’s just confusing as all hell to someone who only recently got into comic books. Then again, I’m told by at least one experienced comic veteran that he dropped it out of sheer confusion too.

  • Ruh roh.
  • I’m not up on all the balance and class variations in Diablo 3, or Diablo in general really, but when a game developer uses terms like “drastic” and “mistake” it’s hard not to take notice.
  • I imagine we’ll know more about this Ron Gilbert project soon, but for now I can say I enjoy the art style.
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