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.
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? . . . . . .
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.
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.)
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.)