Comic Book Reviews 10/19/11

Last week I recorded a podcast that discussed DC’s new 52 comic line. For those who have not heard, DC comics revamped their entire line of comics with 52 number one issues. This was done in an attempt to draw in new readers by providing them accessible stories that stray away from their often-convoluted continuity. This became the perfect opportunity for me to start reading comics (something I’ve tried, and failed, to do on multiple occasions). This is all pretty exciting for me, and I want to share my excitement by reviewing the comics that I’m reading.

Batman #2

Batman #1 did a lot right. It established the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Gotham City, the city he protects. As an introduction it succeeded on several levels with fantastic writing and scene setting. However, the plotting felt disjointed even with the successful cyclical narrative – where it began was practically irrelevant to where it ended (and the cliffhanger with Dick Grayson as a potential suspect felt completely unsatisfying).

Issue 2, “Crash” builds and improves on the previous books successes. The narrative at the beginning offers more excellent world building when describing Wayne Tower. It’s fun stuff on its own, and while it may seem contrived plot-wise as a way to save Bruce, it never comes off like that. While many comics end with cliffhangers in an attempt to keep your interest, Scott Snyder ends each book with a cliffhanger and a conclusion which helps make this run act more like television narrative rather than a long story separated into multiple issues. I look forward to the next issue to see if Snyder finds a different but equally engaging way to conclude book three.

After an exciting, if unnecessary, action sequence with Batman taking out a helicopter full of thugs, and then proving Dick Grayson’s innocence shortly thereafter, the meat and the bones of the story start to show. There appears to be a league of assassins living in Gotham, and have been for centuries. Batman dismisses this notion – he knows this city better than anyone else, but deep down he’s unsure if he believes himself. How could he not know about them? How entrenched are they in Gotham’s seedy underbelly?

By crafting compelling world building and creating a new and intriguing posse of antagonists that threaten Bruce Wayne in a way he has not experienced in a long, long time, Batman is becoming one of the best books DC has. I trust Snyder’s direction with this book and it appears that it’s only going to get better as the arc progresses.


 

 

Wonder Woman #2

 The problem with this book is that it’s trying to establish too many relationships. Wonder Woman returns home and is greeted by her mother, who is the queen of Paradise Island. Aleka, who appears to be a friend/rival of hers, then greets her and they spar. Then Strife visits unexpectedly. Diana thinks she’s there for Zola and her ‘bastard’ child, but instead the book ends with Strife claiming that Diana is her sister. Amidst all of this, we learn Strife’s mother is none-too pleased with her promiscuous husband (the glowy-eyed presence in the first issue) AND Hermes recounts Wonder Woman’s origin briefly to Zola. Too many characters, relationships, and mythology were introduced in this issue. When compared to the briskly paced first issue, this one is pretty disappointing.

I’m not ready to stop reading this series though. Yes, all of this information could have been presented in a more accessible way, but that doesn’t mean that the content wasn’t interesting. The drama alone in Strife’s family has a lot of potential because all of the characters seem to be unpredictable schemers. Throwing Diana into the mix complicates matters in an exciting way that I look forward to seeing unravel.

 

 

 

Nightwing #2

 After playing Batman for the better part of a year, Dick Grayson is back as Nightwing. What makes him so different from Bruce Wayne is that Dick is introspective – with no allies, such as Alfred or Commissioner Gordon, he flies solo. Because of this, most of the narration comes from his thoughts. While I can understand why readers might have problems with this (the old show rather than tell critique), I enjoyed it more for it. Dick has a lot on his mind right now (moving out of Wayne manor, not being Batman, and the circus that changed his life is back in Gotham). Without a girlfriend, best friend, sidekick, etc., to talk to, most of his coping has to be internal.

Haly reveals to Dick that Saiko, the threat in the first book, is killing people involved with the circus because of a secret – a secret about the true purpose of the circus. This is an exciting twist for many reasons. Dick is trying to cope with his perceptions of the past, but this secret could shed new light on the death of his parents. Revisiting Nightwing’s origin is a fantastic way to get both new and old readers interested, but I hope that this arc pulls a Swamp Thing in order to reinvent Dick Grayson as Nightwing.

 

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