Saturday, January 28, 2012

Books I Read: Jim Henson's Tale of Sand

I just finished Archia Comics' Jim Henson's Tale of Sand HC, based on an unsold screenplay by Henson and his screenwriting partner Jerry Juhl, and I'm not sure what to make of it.

It turns out that Henson had a bit of a screenwriting career in the pre-Muppet '60s, specializing in live-action surrealism. After an Oscar-nominated short film and an hour-long drama for NBC, "Tale of Sand" was his feature-length vision for this sort of thing but he was unable to sell it in the early '70s. Once the "The Muppet Show" and Henson's unfortunate early death came along, there was never time to go back to it.

It's hard for me to imagine how this could have been successful as a movie. The main character spends the story being chased across the Western US desert and encountering machine-gun nests, lions, speakeasys, sharks, shieks, and a college football team, just to name a few. Which is great, but to me it never paid off in any significant way. Maybe at the time it was written people were more open to experimental fare, but I don't think it could be made now in sequel-obsessed Hollywood.

Why is our hero carrying a giant key? I have no idea. Looks great, though.
What is the salvation of the book is the gorgeous art of Ramón Pérez, and his "realization" of the screenplay. He's got a semi-cartoon, semi-realistic style that reminds me a lot of Darwyn Cooke. Pérez had a hand in the coloring too, and the combination kept me engaged enough that I was interested to read through to the end even though I probably wouldn't have been able to sit through it on screen. As usual, Archia has delivered a beautiful hardcover -- although maybe I wouldn't have chosen that exact shade of yellow for the cover -- and I'm thrilled to have it just so I can go back and gaze at Pérez' pages. If Tale of Sand doesn't sound like your thing, Pérez' next work is Marvel's adaptation of "John Carter: Gods of Mars", which will probably be a little more mainstream.

To be fair, this kind of surrealist work is highly subjective. Comics Alliance calls Tale of Sand "the best work to come out of Archaia", a distinction I would give instead to Return of the Dapper Men (and, I suspect when all is said and done, Cow Boy), so as we say around here: your mileage may vary.

Monday, January 23, 2012

They Said It Better: "Static Shock: What went wrong"

As an original Milestone Comics fan, I really wanted DC's New 52 version of "Static Shock" to succeed. I mused a little bit about why it failed in a comment here last week, and I was planning to expand that into something longer after talking about it in The Comic Book Shop over the weekend, but DC Women Kicking Ass beat me to it. I highly recommend her analysis, including an obvious point about Ultimate Spider-Man that I had entirely overlooked.

Also check out John Rozum's blog, where today he gave a more detailed account of why he quit the book than is quoted in the DCWKA article.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

KICKSTARTER: A valid business model for indie comics creators?

Three creators from the surrounding area celebrate their recent success with a signing event at Captain Blue Hen Comics in Newark, Delaware . . . . .

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How many of us know incredibly talented and creative artists who never follow up on their dreams, or get to bring their worthy projects to full fruition? 

In many cases it boils down to a lack of funds.  Sometimes its’ the fear of losing money or worry that they may only break even instead of making just a modest profit in exchange for their investment of time, money and effort. 

What if a creator could raise their financial needs in advance of their  project completion, simply by using a fund-raising campaign and giving value back to donors in exchange for their trust and faith? 

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, writes that Kickstarter is an “online threshold pledge system” for funding creative projects ranging from inde film and music to journalism, solar energy technology and food-related projects” - - - as well as comics and graphic novels.

Wikipedia  also provides some of the details, explaining that “people must apply to Kickstarter to have a project posted on the site, and Kickstarter provides guidelines on what types of projects will be accepted.”

“ Project owners choose a deadline and a target minimum of funds to raise.  IF the chosen target is not gathered by the deadline, no funds are collected.  Money pledged by donors is collected using Amazon Payments.”

Wikipedia further outlines some procedures:  “Kickstarter takes 5% of the funds raised; Amazon charges an additional 3-5%.  Unlike many forums for fundraising or investment, Kickstarter claims no ownership over the projects and the work they produce.”

Any method that allows creators to maintain ownership and creative control of their properties rather than turn their work over to second or third party interests is a method that should be applauded.  I’ve been curious about this for some time, and previously wrote about Kickstarter and this particular project on this blog site.  See  http://bcrefugees.blogspot.com/2011/06/unique-way-for-indie-creators-to-manage.html.   Recently WOMANTHOLOGY, a project to fund and print an anthology graphic novel with volunteer efforts from women creators (and excess monies raised being donated to charity) successfully raised over $100, 000.  See http://womanthology.blogspot.com/p/kickstarter-successful-what-does-it-all_10.html

The Kickstarter project initiated in the second quarter of 2011 by the creative talents behind COMIC BOOK DINER  ( http://comicbookdiner.com/ ) wasn’t as ambitious as WOMANTHOLOGY. Writer/artist/inker/letterers Jamar Nicholas, Rich Faber, and John Gallagher wanted to package their original graphic novels for younger readers in a Collector’s Box and make it available in time for Christmas 2011.  The availability of more copies of their works also would help to fuel their efforts to get their works into the children’s section of libraries. 

cropped-comicdiner_mast2Their first attempt through Kickstarter sought to raise $10,000 but fell short of that goal.  They revised their plans, scaled back the package offering (no Collector’s Box anymore), and reactivated their Kickstarter efforts  in July 2011, seeking to raise $6,000.  They succeeded this time and ended the Kickstarter  campaign with a little over $7,500 in pledges.

Through a partnership with Red Lion, they were able to print the first two books and also received help in getting them listed on Amazon.com  (BUZZBOY- SIDEKICKS RULE is offered there right now.)  The shipment of the BUZZBOY and ROBOY RED  books were recently received and Jamar, Rich and John decided to meet at a half-way point to begin working on distributing them to the Kickstarter customers.   The third book, LEON PROTECTOR OF THE PLAYGROUND, should be ready in a few months.  The Captain Blue Hen comic store in Newark, DE was a decent distance between their homes and offered to set up a signing session / meet-and-greet  to garnish the occasion.

I arrived there on Sunday, January 8 with the hope and intention of an interview and learning more details.  However,  many of their supporters were on hand to congratulate them, ask advice, show art samples - - enough to turn it into a mini-workshop on comics creation.  I couldn’t get my interview in, so I opted to correspond with John Gallagher via e-mail.  The high points of that e-mail interview are included here.

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BC REFUGEES BLOGSPOT:  John, it appeared to be a very busy day for you guys today at Captain Blue Hen.  Not a ton of traffic but always busy  - and a lot of quality time with visitors interested in what you are doing, getting help with their projects, etc. . . . . .

JOHN GALLAGHER:  It was great - - we sold maybe 5 additional books, but had four or five different Kickstarter folks come by.  It’s always great to meet folks face to face and say “Thank You.”

BCR:  I couldn’t get near you but I did get to talk with Rich and Jamal.  However, they both defer to you as the “stats guy” for some of my questions.  I’d like to confirm how the Kickstarter program worked out for you on the second go around, without specific details or complicating things by trying to explain every single step.

JG:  Kickstarter did just what it was designed to do - - get things started.  Our costs were anticipated to be between $10,000 – $12,000 if we did things right.  And each book is costing in the $4,000 range, including printing, shipping and customs.  And this is with a very economical printer!  So the money raised has essentially paid for the first two books - - and we are pooling convention, appearance, and Diamond pre-orders towards book  three.  Some Kickstarter projects have gone 1000% beyond the requested budget ! - - But, we weren’t so fortunate.  It just shows we need to keep spreading the word.

BCR:  What I think is significant is that three local indie comics creators tried out a new business model for funding their projects, one that also involved social networking.  What were the expectations?

JG:  I really though we would make our full budget in the first try.  As you know, that wasn’t the case.  We came to realize that the audience we cater to for these books, at least, wasn’t really a Kickstarter crowd.  So we adjusted expectations, and honed our message to the people that were out there.

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BCR:  What worked the best?

JGReally, it was sell , sell,  sell - - - you need to keep pushing, reminding people that you need their help - - and that you are offering a product of high quality.  We played up the reviews we have received, the awards we have won or been nominated for, in order to show we were the real deal.

BCR:  Did it involve less or more effort than initially considered?

JG:  Definitely more shilling than anyone was comfortable with - - it was like a comic-con every day.  “Have you heard of Buzzboy?” . . . “Want to support kid’s comics?” . . . etc., twice a day on Twitter, twice a day on Facebook.  My wife is still mad at me for hijacking her Facebook account one night to reach out to her friends.

BCR:  Upsides?  Downsides?

JG:  There are some folks who respected the hard sell, and that we didn’t give up.  Others were completely turned off.  But we saw this as a Pre-Sale Mechanism.  It’s not really different from Diamond Books.  But, instead of orders, printing, wait for money - - we are getting it in advance, then printing more.  The Internet lets us reach an active versus passive sales model, and I dig that scene! Smile

BCR:  What is the next step?

JG:  Well, we are in comics shops, on Amazon, and available through Baker & Taylor for libraries and bookstores - - so we need to market to those folks now.  Jamar is busy on LEON, and we’re setting up a plan for promoting through the year - - together and apart.

BCR:  Would you use this business/fundraising method again?

JG:  Definitely, as a pre-order tool, again.  We reached more people through Kickstarter than we would advertising in comics shops.

BCR:  In terms of print runs on your works, is this the most ever done?

JG:  Yes and No.  This is the first time we have all printed a personal project and had such high quality printing and production.  We have hardcover and softcover editions, a matching trade dress, etc.  But in work for hire - - Jamar, Rich and I have all worked on high print run products.  Rich worked for DC Comics and had books selling half a million copies.  I did a custom Christmas comic for a shopping mall that outsold BATMAN that month.  Maybe not the most - - but definitely the most satisfying as creators.

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BCR:  Will there be any profit / paycheck in this project - - or is it just a business expense to get more exposure for your works?

JG:  As the great web cartoonist Dave Kellet once said = “People die from exposure.”  (Dave Kellet of  http://www.sheldoncomics.com/)  No, we have set up a project that will break even within three months of the final book shipping – and make a profit.  You should always aim to make money as a creator, if only to keep score.  More money means we are reaching more people, and so on . . .

BCR:  Were most of the Kickstarter supporters already familiar with your works, or did you pick up a significant number of new supporters?

JG:  I would say it was 50/50, ranging from folks who just love to be on the ground floor - - to friends, fans, and uncles, aunts, and cousins.  (Hi, Billy!)

BCR:  Any advice for a comics creator considering using Kickstarter?

JG:  Look at what has been done before - - and what is successful.  Be realistic in your expectations; and don’t expect everyone to come to you.  Have fun with it - - but also know that you owe it to your supporters to deliver the best product that you can - - this is the real deal !!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

DC's New 52: The Second Wave

We all knew it was coming--DC's teased us with it for months now. We had details on one book and hints on another, but to have a fully planned six-book lineup, with fairly impressive creative teams and a distinct purpose for each title? I have to applaud DC here, because I'm interested in each of these new titles.

Batman Incorporated was the one title we all knew would be back, from interviews, announcements and even the teaser at the end of the recent oversized one-shot, Leviathan Strikes. Grant Morrison returns to finish his Batman epic, while Chris Burnham continues his path to superstardom as the sole artist on this twelve-issue run. It's probably worth noting that that series, however, is now billed as ongoing--even if Morrison leaves after the first year, it wouldn't surprise me if sales keep the title going, the same way Tomasi is now helming Batman and Robin, Morrison's previous vehicle for the franchise.

Creative team details aside, Batman Incorporated will see the culmination of Morrison's Leviathan saga, whose ultimate villain was recently revealed to be none other than--spoiler warning!--Talia al Ghul, who formed the criminal organization in an attempt to recover her son and combat Batman's worldwide crimefighting initiative. This reveal added an incredible sense of history to an already intriguing run filled with new concepts and startling twists to old ones. It remains to be seen, of course, whether or not the end of Morrison's story will return the characters to a familiar status quo or leave them changed for a new writer to pick up--but as always with Morrison, the ride itself is what matters, not the destination. His Batman run has been exciting and innovative thus far, and I'm in until the end.

We've also had James Robinson and Nicola Scott's collaboration hinted at for several months, but now we finally get the details--instead of a simple Justice Society miniseries, we get the more ambitious Earth 2, a book that will (presumably) deal with the superheroics of an entire parallel world. Both of these creators being left out of the new 52 launch shocked many fans, but when it was revealed that they were working on something greater for the company, intrigue set in. The emphasis on the Justice Society will remain, of course--they are, after all, the most important part in DC's famous parallel world--but with more than just one team in their sandbox, Robinson and Scott have the opportunity to tackle even greater storylines and consequences for their characters. One of the most interesting aspects of the title, however? Its association with the next:

World's Finest by Paul Levitz, George Perez and Kevin Maguire, with the artists taking on alternating story arcs. The series will address Huntress and Power Girl, both seen so far in the new 52, both of whom have equal claim to both worlds. Before Flashpoint, they'd settled in to DC's stable of characters on their "main" Earth--but now, with a new emphasis on Earth 2, the mystery has returned. Is Huntress, currently starring in her own miniseries (also written by Levitz), Helena Wayne or Helena Bertinelli? Is Karen Starr, currently appearing in Mr. Terrific, the heavyweight Power Girl or simply a buxom blonde on Michael Holt's arm? This series will address those issues, as Huntress and Power Girl team up to discover why they've been locked away from their home reality. Effectively forming a new franchise when linked to the Earth 2 title, World's Finest has the potential to be an all-star title worthy of watch.

It isn't only big name creators given room to play in DC's Second Wave, of course--comics newcomer China Miéville joins with artist Matues Santulucco to present Dial H, a Vertigo-esque take on the Dial H For Hero concept. This title joins Animal Man, Swamp Thing and others in the "Dark" section of DC's New 52, and emphasizes the psychological effects associated with the character. After all, when the H-Dial lets its bearer change into new and exciting superheroes, he takes them on entirely--yes, he would retain his own personality, but he changes identity as well. Furthermore, it's wish fulfillment for the everyman--someone who goes from an ordinary life to gaining incredible cosmic powers from a newfound device. This new approach to the book is emphasized by its editor, Vertigo line-editor Karen Berger, and while the title is firmly set in DC continuity, the tone will come from both worlds.

G.I. Combat becomes the new war title in DC's stable, with writer J.T. Krul and artist Ariel Olivetti helming the title and its The War That Time Forgot revival. I have an indescribable love for a series that sends soldiers to their fates on an island filled inexplicably with dinosaurs, and although Krul and Olivetti aren't my favorites, I acknowledge that they're a good fit for this title. G.I. Combat will also feature rotating backups to provide new takes on DC's other war serials, such as The Haunted Tank (by John Arcudi and Scott Kolins) and The Unknown Soldier (by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Dan Panosian). I'm very impressed by the creative teams for the backups, and I'm excited to see how those develop as the series (hopefully) continues. War titles have been a hard sell for DC as interest in the genre shrinks, but you have to admire them for the continued attempt and the creative muscle they attach.

Finally, we have our first real spinoff title in the new 52--The Ravagers by Howard Mackie and Ian Churchill, spinning out of events in both Superboy and Teen Titans. There's a lot to say here, and I'll begin with speculation: I don't think it's a stretch to say that the book (promised to feature four characters on the run from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the organization going after young metahumans) will star Rose Wilson and Caitlin Fairchild, both of whom are currently appearing as N.O.W.H.E.R.E. operatives in Superboy. Rose is nearly a given, especially with the title of the book, but Fairchild has had an intriguing story arc and is already on the outs with N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It would also help to emphasize the Wildstorm universe's integration with DC, something that the company is already aggressively pursuing with the increased Daemonite threat across numerous titles.

I also want to point out that Mackie's new title is spinning out of two titles by Scott Lobdell, one of Mackie's colleagues in 90's Marvel. I'm excited and intrigued to see them work together again, and although I realize that Mackie has his detractors, he's put out some excellent work (Ghost Rider, anyone?) I think this could be an excellent fit for him. And with upcoming ties between Teen Titans and Legion Lost--soon to be helmed by another 90's Marvel alumni, Tom DeFalco--DC's Young Justice franchise continues to grow in new and unexpected ways. Finally, it's worth wondering whether or not Ian Churchill will utilize his newer, Darwyn Cooke-ish art style, or his classic, Jim Lee-inspired style. I'm hoping for the former, as it showcases his true talents, but I recognize that the latter is probably more marketable, especially with Lee's new status in DC's editorial hierarchy. We'll see.

All in all, though, I'm excited. What about you?

Books I Read: Daytripper


It's hard to articulate what Daytripper, a masterpiece by twin brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, is about. The back cover copy says:

Meet Bras de Oliva Domingos.  The miracle child of a world-famous Brazilian writer, Bras spends his days penning other people’s obituaries and his nights dreaming of becoming a successful author himself — writing the end of other people’s stories, while his own has barely begun.
Each day in Bras’ life is like a page from a book.  Each one reveals the people and things who have made him who he is:  his mother and father, his child and his best friend, his first love and the love of his life.  And like all great stories, each day has a twist he’ll never see coming…

Fabio Moon says it's about "quiet moments...what you can tell from somebody's eyes. An exchange of looks. A smile." I just know it's beautiful. And powerful. And emotional. Honestly, if this book doesn't make you feel something, then you're dead inside and no one can help you.

This is the part where I usually go on for paragraphs about details about the craft of the book, scenes I liked, quoting dialogue, etc., but I genuinely think this reading experience was a perfect gem that I don't want to puncture by analyzing. (I am, however, willing to mix a metaphor apparently.) It might have been nice to have a deluxe hardcover, but then again the newsprint shows off Dave Stewart's genius coloring perfectly and I'm not sure it would look right on glossy paper.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

They Said It Better: Peanuts #1

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to hold an actual new Peanuts comic book published during my lifetime. I wish it could have been published during Charles Schulz' lifetime too, but it's a great first effort by Kaboom! and I agree with everything Peanuts book expert Nat Gertler has to say in his review.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

DC NEW 52: Batman And Robin - dynamic dysfunctional duo

 

BATMAN AND ROBIN  #1 – 4  (DC Comics)  Peter J. Tomasi, writer.  Patrick Gleason, penciller.  Mick Gray, inker.  John Kalisz, colorist.  Patrick Brosseau, letterer.

This book was a nice discovery for me as well as a welcome surprise.

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What interests me most about this title is the relationship between father Bruce Wayne and son Damien Wayne.  It’s about respect, trust, teamwork and bridging the generation gap. It’s very much like any real-world family once the children begin to mature and think for themselves,  which usually occurs at the same time they begin to feel a little self-confident and independent.  Writer Peter J. Tomasi has a young son to help influence his characterization of Robin - - and that kind of high value experience helps to make the father-son exchanges in this book seem realistic. 

So, what happens in BATMAN AND ROBIN?:

In the opening Bruce decides to make an about-face and stop reminding himself so much of the date, time and occurrence of his parents’ death and instead celebrate their anniversary and life.  This news is meant with bored indifference by son Damien, which sets off a heated discussion about equal partnership in the team, respect and trust.  A villain named Nobody who possesses stealth technology dispatches the Batman, Inc. agent in Moscow and then makes his way to the U.S.  He aggressively dislikes the  Batman “franchise”  and intends to take his scorn directly to the source.  He renews his acquaintance with Bruce, meeting him as “ Morgan” and letting  Bruce know that he feels the “mission” has been distorted and he (Nobody) is here for “intervention”. (I’m trying to avoid being a spoiler here by revealing too much.)   The setting for his confrontation/lecture to a bound Batman and Robin at an abandoned drive-in theater is classic, in both style and imagery.

What did I like about it?:

1)Tomasi also ties the storyline directly into that relationship so that it becomes the driving force of this series so far. Otherwise, villain Nobody would be non-memorable - - just another temporary threat that Batman should be able to handle.  Instead, Nobody intends to drive a wedge between Damien and his father and in doing so become the guiding force in Damien’s development.

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2) The opening of each of the various fight scenes throughout the series.  It’s usually an in-your-face one or two page panel with a scary Batman confronting the criminals and an equally scary grim-faced Robin doing his best to match his father’s presence.  This helps give evidence to Bruce’s growing fear that Damien would simply become a monster without his father’s influence and guidance.

3) The frequent discussions between Alfred and Bruce about Damien are very revealing and show that Bruce is in over his head when it comes to this matter.  Alfred tries to be diplomatic and keep his own controlling impulses in check.   It’s almost like another father-son discussion, just with different players.   I also love that Alfred has a very definite role in this series rather than just function as man-servant to the manor.

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4) Patrick Gleason’s art is very fluid, and he does some nice and subtle tributes to various past artists of the Batman throughout the book. (Bernie Wrightson comes to mind in Issue #3.)  There are some amazing panels throughout these issues.  And the rest of the art team does everything they can to further enhance the effect.  It shows. 

5) The covers.  I am very pleased with the cover art on almost all of the DC books.  They seem to understand what commands attention and will draw curious readers to the books.  Unlike a lot of Marvel covers I’ve seen lately that just look like arrogant posing of the characters.  Check out the symbolic cover to Issue #4 - -  one of the best New 52 covers I’ve seen - - and there are many good ones.

What didn’t I like about it?:

1) No gripe with the book.  I’m just unhappy with myself because both writer and artist were unfamiliar to me before reading BATMAN AND ROBIN.  They both are DC stalwarts and veterans, especially Tomasi who signed on as an editor in the 1990’s and has been writing for DC since 2007.  Gleason has also done work for Marvel and Image.  It’s just that I’ve never picked up any books that they were involved with before  (that I can remember).  Hard to image that I could miss them, but it’s true.

230px-9_14_11PeterTomasiByLuigiNovi1          230px-6_8_08PatrickGleason1ByLuigiNovi

Do I love, like, feel indifferent, dislike, or loathe this title?

I like this very much.  It’s close to love.  It’s going to depend on where this goes after the first story arc concludes over the next several issues.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

DC NEW 52: The Best Of The Bats

 

BATMAN  #1 – 4  (DC)  Scott Snyder, writer.  Greg Capullo, penciller & cover.  Jonathan Glapion, inker.  Fco Plascencia, colors.  Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, letters.  Batman created by Bob Kane.

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I’m reading several Batman-family titles and enjoying them all.  But the one I look forward to the most right now is BATMAN by Snyder and Capullo.  The artist-writer team is dynamic and doing some of their best work.  Greg Capullo’s style is perfect for this title.  Scott Snyder’s writing has a feel as if he has been writing this character for decades instead of just a few years.  (I also recommend you check out his work on the current SWAMP THING, another worthwhile DC NEW 52 title.)

So, what happens in this book? . . . . .

Bruce Wayne makes a major announcement regarding his role in the future of Gotham City (a very impressive speech and a nice piece of writing) and strikes a partnership of sorts (they share similar intentions) with candidate for mayor Lincoln March.   A John Doe is brutally and slowly murdered, and during the crime scene investigation a sharply aware Batman finds a message that targets Bruce Wayne as the next victim.  A Gotham ghost story involving “the Court of Owls” and their “Talon” enforcer is resurrected and suspected to have ties to the murder.  Bruce Wayne/Batman denies their existence, even after an Owl-like costumed assassin strikes.  But, he renews his investigation into everything Owl-related and finds new evidence that . . . . . .

What do I like most about BATMAN? . . . . . .

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1) The Covers:  All four covers are eye-catching and tease at the inside contents.  All four covers are free of captions and other text clutter, with just the title and credits appearing and leaving the art as visible as possible.  The covers to Issue #3 and 4 are the best of the bunch. I love the image of Batman reflected in the Owl’s goggles overshadowing a blood red Gotham cityscape,  making it my favorite cover of the month.

2) Capullo’s captivating art:  Tall vertical panels, multiple panels per page of varying sizes from large to tiny, art details that roll off one panel and into the next, the way he draws Batman in motion (almost always an elusive moving target).  Wow!  On the down side I’ve heard some criticism about the way he depicts chins, particularly Batman/Bruce Wayne.  It’s a slight exaggeration that I appreciate, almost as if it is a tribute to the square-jawed Batman as depicted by Bob Kane back in the 1960’s.  The double-page look at the interior of the Bat Cave is priceless, especially the revolving wheel that all the vehicles park on.

3) The rest of the art team and the great work they are doing with shadows and shading, multi-hues of a single color, dark and light contrasts, silhouettes, spotlights and backgrounds.  Marvelous!  BATMAN is a beautiful book to view.  I’m no pyro-maniac but this group really knows how to visualize a deadly fire and make it a thing of beauty.

4) Gotham is a fabulous setting for a comic series.  Snyder recognizes that and plays it to the maximum, almost to the point of making the city itself a major character in the story.  He sets things up perfectly in Issue #1 where he starts out in the opening pages by quoting from the Gotham Gazette’s “Gotham Is” column where readers finish the sentence.  After including some of those responses in the text captions and using that to create an immediate impression of Snyder’s Gotham, Batman wraps it up with an appropriate battle comment.

5) I like that Bruce is involving Dick Grayson in his missions/investigations/projects and not ignoring his importance.  I love the beginning of Issue #1 and how Dick helped out at Arkham Asylum.  We also get to see Tim Drake and Damian Wayne, although their roles so far aren’t as involving as Dick’s have been.

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6) Every issue to date ends with a major surprise or cliff-hanger. Snyder builds the suspense very well, and this could be his way of ensuring that the reader returns the following month.  However, unlike the campy BATMAN 1960’s television show which also ended every episode with a cliff-hanger - - in Snyder’s BATMAN these abrupt endings seem like a logical outcome/conclusion to what occurs in the book rather than a deliberate set-up.  It takes some skill to pull that off.  I’m curious to see if Snyder can keep it up without making it seem too obvious or forced.

7) Anytime that Snyder goes into more detail about some aspect or feature of Gotham you realize that it will play an important part at some later time in the story. And, just like the best scripted screenplays that utilize the same technique  - - you don’t mind it a bit.  (Example: details of Wayne Tower in Issue #2.)

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8) Snyder is not just adding to the back-story of the city of Gotham.  He’s also shedding more light on the Wayne family, in particular Alan Wayne who designed and built some of Gotham’s famous landmarks back in the 1920’s.   That includes the  parts he adds about young Bruce’s first detective venture following the death of his parents when he looked for a bigger conspiracy - - which Snyder ties into the main story in a masterful  fashion, as well as share a learned lesson from Bruce’s experience.  It gives insight into the character of Batman and what makes him tick.  Clever, that Snyder.   His development of more history for Gotham reminds me of what is being done (but not to the same degree) as regards the very same city in the pages of ALL-STAR WESTERN

What don’t I like about BATMAN? . . . . .

Oh, I like it just fine.  I’m having a very hard time here trying to find fault with anything.  And, after reading the final pages of Issue #4  - - I just have to come back to find out what happens next.

Do I love it, like it, feel neutral, dislike it, or hate it? . . . . .

Love it, love it, love it.  I give it a rating of A+.  (I’m also planning to check out those Snyder issues of DETECTIVE COMICS that I opted to ignore.)