6 Jun 2012

Wednesday New Comic Day - Batman


So there is a guy dressed up as a bat and you need to take him seriously. His superpower is being awesome. Look at this guy, minus the obvious crazy Bruce Wayne has got the looks, the athleticism, intelligence and skills of ninja, detective, medical examiner and scientist in almost every discipline.

You just rolled an 18 on almost every stat. If Batman was a D&D/Pathfinder character you'd be called up for cheating and forced to swallow you cheating dice, sheet and pencil chased by some Mountain Dew and Cheetos

So the 'New 52' Batman.


Deciding to ignore a few things and wash over some other things. Bruce Wayne is Batman. His most recent tromps through time, addition of an unknown hyper deadly moral lacking son, organizing a world Bat vigilante league, and his long dead sidekick is back and wants to kill him... almost succeeding in doing so once or twice.

To say it simply, the most recent Batman stories were fucked up. Grant Morrison told some awesome tales, but writers on long running series have a tendency to cross that line. Development of characters and settings is important. Change is needed or all weight of the stories are worthless.

Example

Look at Wolverine, his power is to not change. He is boring, he has some great stories but they end up sounding so familiar at times. Also his power, ability and skills give are always the McGuffin used to win. Wolverine wins because he fixes changes to his situation.

So Batman ran around and participated in all this recent madness, but it did one thing. It made it less like Batman. New people reading the book, or older more knowledgeable readers who returned find themselves lost do to all the change. Batman was lacking in familiarity.

We all know Batman. Thanks to the pop culture advancement by Adam West, the Tim Burton fuelled Crazy... lets not bring back Kilmer and Clooney, they go in the Adam West basket as the example to avoid. Leave it to Adam West and the Dark Gruff Bale Batman. You know that guy who's a crazy Ninja with toys but lacking the somewhat hyper intelligence of all the other Bat versions.

When you read that there is more then one Batman in Gotham alone, you kind of put down the book and walk away. Willing to come back once DC has their shit sorted. If you want an example of this style of advancement but keeping the familiar, closest example is the Loab/Lee run of the Hush story line. Familiar Batman, exploring what makes Batman fun to read.

Bring in an opportunity to sort out the crazy and make Batman, the super hero he is. Yeah sure he has 18 in every stat but the adventures can still be fun right?

Right.

The series so far (Issues #1-8) simply titled Batman by the team of Snyder & Capullo brings new toys, introduces us to the family and presents a challenge that makes Batman and Bruce Wayne work for it. Some spoilers are found but they lack details.

--Art--
Capullo was an old favourite of mine back when he did X-Force replacing Rob Liefield as head pencil man for the evolved New Mutants. Later Capullo expanded and took over pencil duties for Todd on his comic Spawn. He learned in colour with Marvel but grew up using the blacks when working with Image. Capullo brings his experience to make the square jaw Batman while keeping a level of caricature to the other players of the book. 

The new 'Armour' digs for all the boys of the 'new 52' looks nice but also detailed enough to be a chore for some artists. I've seen Finch drop the extra lines and ignore the visual change on lots of his Batmans.
With Capullo, he uses it and runs with it. 

Harvey Bullock has some of the Sam and Max influence from the Spawn and he looks great. The Talons look brilliant and the Owls themselves are very simple in design but also having a creepy factor to their look. Capullo's use of line weight and colour allow for directed focus in the panels and simple to follow action while keeping the backgrounds crisp and clean.

Batman's only looked this good since Lee did Hush and All Star.

--Story--
Take Batman and give him a Harvey Dent styled ally, in the name of Lincoln March. Give Wayne a new mission to clean up and revitalise the city. Give the city a new villain and mystery that Batman have never solved but is now forced to sort out and admit he was off... ok you got me. I want to know more.

Over the first eight issues, Snyder runs Batman to the brink and back. All the while not pushing him beyond his more realistic limits compared to his more 'Super' allies. Speaking of Allies, when Gotham is under attack at the end of the book and his home is invaded I found it nice to see Batman not pull the Justice League card. Their relationship is fuzzy with the current 'New 52' run and Batman likes to keep things close to the vest so it only made sense. I think Snyder could do more with the rest of the League but only once they sort out the current mess of the 'new 52' and the continuum. 

"Alfred send a call out to the family." - Batman, from Batman #8

Yeah he uses the family word. He acknowledges the people that are around him. The city they all know best and protect is under attack. Batman calls the best. He made them the best and he needs the best. Its not a panic, but a need. Batman is a leader who is calling on his people to give everything in order to do what needs to get done. What use is jumping around in underpants, cape and mask unless you're fully commited. This is why they exist, this is why they do it, this is who they are... a family dedicated to going into the dark places and convinving the monsters that reside within that Gotham is better to be left alone. Such a great way to end a story arc, leading into the first major crossover of the 'new 52'

-- Rate --

Batman gets 5 toes up.

We have full on O going on in most of the issues. The pace calms down a bit in one of the middle issues but it is used well. Taking the tension down a notch to build it back up in the following issues. When running such a high octane story arc right before a crossover, lots of writers avoid the drop of speed out of fear. They force the pace at breakneck speeds in order to keep the reader going. This sets up a less effective epex in the upcoming major event. Instead these gents treat us readers as fans and intelligent fans allowing us to revel in Batman's plight and enjoy the while ride. It's done well.

Dozer's Ratings -
1 - Failed expected standard - Avoid, protect yourself from it
2 - Below expected standard - Borrow
3 - Met expected standard - Borrow or Buy
4 - Above expected standard - Buy
5 - Exceeded expected standard - Must Buy