Comics Anonymous


It’s a surprise this didn’t happen earlier – my very own column to talk about the thing I hold most dear in comics – Batman. If you’re new to the blog you’ll already know I read a lot (if not most of) the bat-books from DC, as well as steep myself in as many bat-things as a married man can get away with, so it was only logical that I start a regular post to discuss everything that’s going on in the Bat-verse. Be careful though – SPOILER ALERT! – although I try to keep away from spoilers in my reviews of issues, this feature won’t have such a luxury – so it’s wise to make sure you’ve caught up before going much further.

It’s a good week to start talking about the Bat, since we’ve been hit with another stunner of an issue of Batman from Scott Snyder and Gregg Cappulo. I’m not going to be posting a full review of the issue because I’ve done a few on this series so far, and there’s very little more I can add to ‘This is a perfect work of art’. So instead I’ll use this vehicle to share my thoughts:

‘ZOMG! BATMAN PUNCHED NIGHTWING AND HIS TOOTH FELL OUT AND IT HAS AN OWL ON IT!’ was my train of thought during the last few pages of the issue. Thanks to the power of Twitter I already knew this issue was going to be a big turning point (not to be confused with a big turning issues like #5 was!) so was expecting something big, but thankfully didn’t know what it would turn out to be. What’s interesting though is that I did have my suspicions on something going on between this book and Nightwing back in issue #1 and mentioned in my review that Scott and Kyle (Higgins) could have something up thier sleeves that joined this books together. I was certainly on the right path,  I obviously just had no idea that Dick could turn out to be a potential candidate for a Talon in the Owls.

Snyder has once again proven that he’s not only able to create stunning single issues, but he’s got a knack for plots on a larger scale. There’s already references popping out from his run on Detective Comics that confirm he’s been thinking about this for sometime, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if elements of the mini series Gates of Gotham come back into play when we start to discover the history of the Court of Owls. Since we’ve established that the Owls have been around much longer than the Bat, it gives Snyder a chance to delve into the Batman mythology and start twisting what we know as continuity to fit into his own plot, very much like what Grant Morrison did on his run. It’s a nifty trick if performed correctly, creating new stories from old, and unfortunately it usually means we have to suffer other sub-par stories elsewhere to end up with this diamond.

In this case, I refer to Detective Comics and The Dark Knight. I have real trouble sometimes telling these two apart and, separated by a few weeks in release, it’s easy to get the stories mixed up, usually because they fall for the terrible gimmicks a bad bat-book can have. It’s understandable that, because the world of Batman has probably the most iconic set of characters, or rather villians, that writers will want to use these a much as possible. But so far – especially with The Dark Knight – we’ve seen them overused. We’ve already got a couple of stellar series’ that do the ‘different bad guy every issue’ story well in the likes of The Long Halloween and Hush, so we don’t really need another one, especially when all we get week on week is a different villiain from the roster suped up on some mixture of Venom and Fear toxin.

Detective Comics started off promising enough with the introduction to a new brand of scary slasher bad guys – but the recent Penguin storyline has jumped between boring and confusing each issue. There is still the question though as to what happened to the Joker since he had his face sliced off? I’m sure writer Tony S. Daniels is hoping that this unanswered mystery is enough to keep readers going each month, but there’s no build of suspense or surprise like you get on Snyder’s book.

Ok – ranting almost over. The other book to suffer my critisim is (sadly) Batwoman. Issues #1-#5 are still some of my favourite in the New52, if not the best when it comes to the artwork, but the last couple of issues have started to undo that magic. I feel bad for blaming it soley on the artwork, which is a poor imitation of what we got at the start of the series, but the story’s gone down the pan also. Last week’s issue #7 was jumping all over the place and not even in a cool Tarantino way either. It’s a little surprising since it’s still JH Williams III and W. Haden Blackman writing the comic, however I wonder if the inclusion into the New52 has hindered thier original plans. This book was delayed so much it seems DC decided to just fit it into the New52 rather than actually choosing it as one of the 52, meaning it’s possible that the five-issue run was all there was supposed to be and now the pair are struggling to keep up with the pace of a monthly book. Williams is supposed to come back to doing art duties at some stage (I suspect he’s probably already started and it just takes a while to get finished) so hopefully this will herald a return to form for the book.

There are other good Bat-books out there though – including Batgirl and Batman & Robin. I’ll admit that the latter has had a few issues I wasn’t so keen on and made me question if I should continue to read it, but the last few have more than made up for it. I said at the start that the most interesting thing that this series needs to be about is the relationship between Bruce and Damien, or rather the relationship between this Batman and Robin, since we’ve never seen these two paired together as such. The series so far has done a pretty good job at mixing the two, presenting a conflicted Bruce Wayne as he trains both his new partner and his son.

Similarly with Batgirl there’s been a few low points, but not enough for me to give up on the book altogether. It’s a beautifully coloured book which helps add to the lighter more feminine touch of Gail Simone, I just wasn’t as keen on the two-part story on Gretel. This book tends to be one where the overriding plot is more interesting that each of the issues, so I’m keen to stick with it for that reason.

Looking forward to what will more than likely discussed in my next article, we’ve got the Batman: Earth One graphic novel coming out shortly, as well as more Bat-books included in the second wave of the DCnew52. Morrison’s previous series of Batman Incorporated was a belter, so this new one is sure to carry on in the same way, we also get to catch up on Huntress following her miniseries in World’s Finest, and there’s more Bat-goodness in Earth 2. Plenty to look forward to!

Craig @hastiecraig

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