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Two things make two-thirds of a post

Detective Comics #1000 was unexpectedly not bad. The general tone of the stories was hopeful (or at least as hopeful as Batman stories can get), and a couple were Very Batman ones, for personal values of Batman.

Also, courtesy of Wikipedia's daily email, the Names of Istanbul page. It turns out that the official renaming from "Constantinople" to "Istambul " only happened officially in 1930, much later than I had thought. On the other hand, "Istanbul" is a variant of the Turkish for, literally, "The City", and had been the informal name in Turkish for the city since even before 1453 (and, in Greek, even before that).

Istanbul means "The City." And it has been called "the city" for a long time regardless of the language.

I'm oversimplifying and focusing on a very narrow slice of a complex and certainly ambiguous history, but, gods, isn't that something?

A couple of Warren Ellis recs

Both Cemetery Beach (an Image comic) and Finality (a weekly webtoon) are pretty much standard Ellis fare: secret history, shadowy groups, and violent, foul-mouthed hypercompetent characters prone to dry and yet hyperbolic wit, and also full of shit.

Cemetery Beach, in particular, has a very interesting premise, although I don't want to spoil the hilariously straightforward reveal at the beginning of the first issue (besides, here the *art* carries a lot of the information).

As usual, I think you'll like it if you have liked other works from Ellis, and won't if you haven't. (This isn't meant to imply that the's monotonous; it's just that his creativity lies more in his world-building — the depth and love with which he puts together bits of fictional lore, history, and random bits pieces of knowledge, into a something that makes sense — than in the psychological and linguistic range of his characters.)
I just caught up with Marjorie Liu's Monstress, and it's definitely an interesting comic. Female-centered in a way that's both critical to the story and not what the story is about, unsparingly horrifying when it should be (trigger warnings for violence and torture, some of it involving children, although never for shock value or unsympathetically), and with an interestingly detailed fantasy world. Sana Takeda's art is probably perfect for the story.

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Just met (metaphorically speaking, although wouldn't that be fun) Raimondo di Sangro: XVIth century Italian noble, inventor, and translator. Had his own printing press. Rumored to have done experiments on... problematically fresh humans. He destroyed his own scientific archive before he died. After his death, his descendants, under threat of excommunication by the Church due to di Sangro's involvement with Freemasonry and alchemy, destroyed what was left of his writings, formulae, laboratory equipment and results of experiments.

(Sounds like somebody you could write a Dan Brown/Umberto Eco thing about.)

Also, and to showcase the depths of my ignorance, I just learned that Stabat Mater is the title of a Catholic hymn about Mary standing at the Crucifixion. And now I have to give Masamune Shirow props, because in Ghost in the Shell: Man-Machine Interface there's a entertainment/religious organization (well, front) ran by a cyborg called Mother (you can guess who) through a literal crucifixion-like linking device. Considering the explicitly religious themes — plot — of the manga, it's not just a nice reference.

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*clings to the scans*

Just reread Dixon and Grant's Robin v1, aka The One Where Tim Gets His Newsletter from the Sherlock Holmes Society but Has His Basil Rathbone Movie Preempted By Bad News, Kicks Ass In A Suit, Wears A Red Hood, Gets Into Dick and Jason's Short Pants, Has His Butt Kicked in Paris, the French Countryside, and Hong Kong by An Exponentially Worsening Chain of Ass-kickers, Intrigues Shiva Enough To Remain Alive After Saying "No" To Her A Couple of Times, Briefly Meets Ducard, and Generally Speaking, Goes From "I'm Not Sure I'll Ever Be Robin" to "Boy, I'm Already Feeling My Soul Wilting Under the Weariness of this Robin Thing, And Also Bruce Doesn't Look Saner From This Side of the Fence" In About Three Weeks.

Tim Drake: the Robin who needs a nap, like, all the time.

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Comics! (Shadowy Conspiracies Edition)

The Shadow / Batman #6: The end of a not uninteresting mini about a deeeeeep mega-conspiracy. It's a nice one, and I'm psychologically unable to not like the ending, but it only works as an Elseworld, in the sense that it's too big to leave much space in the Batman universe for anything else. That's a common issue in universes with long continuities; the accumulation of Events and Conspiracies escalates where, you know, Bruce's life isn't the target of a centuries-long conspiracy that's the retrochronal side effect of having been Omega beam'd by Darkseid Himself, but rather it's the target of a millennia-long conspiracy by the followers of a freaking capital-g god from a different universe. It gets ridiculous. Rather than continuity and reboots, I'd prefer a continuous stream of singles and minis, overlapping in arbitrary and not always well-defined ways; that way the world can change.

The Wild Storm #12: An example of the above, I think. Ellis is able to tell a cohesive variant of the Wildstorm universe, basically because he can start from scratch and keep the bits he wants (also, because he's good at that kind of thing, mind you). A point of interest is that, because you have multiple shadowy deep conspiracies of ultra-competent people (and a couple of semi-independent groups in the middle), nobody quite knows what's going on, butterflies get stepped on, etc. The slowly unfolding chaos adds to the sense of tension.

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James Bond: The Body #1

A quiet, introspective, funny-ish interlude. Recommended.

(I initially wrote slightly funny, but funny-ish lets me keep the word count down to six, which I wasn't trying to do until I noticed the word count was seven — then it became unavoidable.)

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EGO #1-#9

As cynical, self-aware takes on the concept of hero groups go (and by now we don't precisely have a dearth of them), it wasn't an unenjoyable one. The SF elements of the story are interesting on their own, and it's helped by the fact that it's neither too nihilistic nor too closely aimed at any specific cultural touchstone.

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I've been catching a bit of The Mentalist as background TV, and I have to say I had forgotten quite how punchable Patrick Jane is. Clever guy, I like his (pre-Moffat)Doctor Who-ish avoidance of violence, and the amateur-helping-the-police setup isn't more or less implausible than all similar others, but, oh, god, he's a pretentious asshole, even when it makes things more difficult for the people he works with. Part of me wants to headcanon it as a self-destructive reaction to his guilt about his dead family ("suicide by enraged colleague suspect random bystander"), but of course his being a pretentious asshole contributed to their deaths (without going too far into victim blaming, mind you).

He's not as bad as John Luther in that sense; he's sort of broken, and I do feel for the guy. And while Patrick is a walking stressor, Luther oscillates between "breaks the law in violent ways to help innocents" to "breaks the law in violent ways to help himself." But Patrick's grating and insulting in counterproductive ways, and although he gets away with it because he's helpful and, well, the protagonist, I don't have a lot of sympathy for people who are impolite just because they can.

Most of them well-off white male geniuses, unsurprisingly. (Luther is a not well-off black male genius who regularly abuses whatever modicum of power he has legitimately earned through his being good at his job, which makes things more complex, Elba's great acting aside)

Insert here the obvious comment about the World's Greatest Well-off White Male Genius Who's Unnecessarily Irritating To People He Works With, Bruce Wayne, whose overall plan vis a vis the JLA seems to be they think of themselves as good people, so the more they personally want to kill me because they find me obnoxious, the less likely they are to attack me even when technically they would have the right to, or maybe just the newbies don't kill me because they think I'm tough enough to mouth off to the Clark, Diana, and J'onn with impunity, and Clark, Diana, and J'onn don't kill me because they are genuinely good and extremely patient people whose personal lines I've spent a lot of time profiling to make sure I never cross.

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