Dueling Shots: Batman #1 Review
- Published on Monday, 26 September 2011 02:01
- Written by Kevin
With so many big comics coming out as of late we starting a new series of reviews: Dueling Shots. This is where two or more Revolution members will review a comic, collection or others in a dual format. For this first edition of Dueling Shots, Andrenn and I are reviewing one of our most anticipated comics of the DC Comics New #52 in Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #1. Check out our thoughts of the issue and see if we killed each other by the end.
Kevin: Alright Andrenn, let’s talk some Batman #1. What did you think of how Scott Snyder started things off with the issue?
Andrenn: I think of all the new 52 titles I've read so far this was easily the best. There are a few reasons why. The main reason being that it wasn't bogged down with introductions. While I enjoyed Swamp Thing #1, its biggest weakness was that it had to introduce Alec Holland. The same thing hurt Batgirl, Frankenstein and several others.
Snyder doesn't spend half the comic introducing who Bruce Wayne is through lots of dialogue or exposition dumps. He throws you in by having Batman literally thrown into a big fight.
Kevin: Using the Arkham Asylum fight to show how Gotham is seen by the rest of the DCU and how the city reflects the people that live in it was a great move by Scott Snyder. I especially liked Bruce talking about how Gotham has been given various nicknames throughout its history, like "Gotham is Two-Face.” It shows how there are always two sides to those who fight in Gotham like Batman and the Batfamily do against the Batman’s Rogues Gallery.
By mixing in this internal monologue with some a great action sequence it help the series put its best foot forward right away. And that is what the best issues of the DC Comics relaunch have done, such as Action Comics #1, JLI #1 and Nightwing #1. They put you right in the middle of things with quick introductions that don’t slow things down.
Andrenn: Agreed. He used the idea of an interactive article to show how the people of Gotham look at their city. That was very clever. I think he avoided doing the typical origin stuff because if you're interested in reading about Batman you already know the basics. Parents gunned down, etc. So in some ways this was more about Gotham City than just introducing us to Batman.
Kevin: Batman's origin is one comic book origin that doesn't need retelling. Similar to Spider-Man and Superman, his origin is straight forward and is one that the mainstream knows already through the cartoons and movies.
Andrenn: Definitely. My favorite part of the comic was definitely the opening in Arkham. The way the narration fits in with the action and then Joker coming in near the end and teaming up with Batman? It was some real stuff. It was smart use of the narration alongside the action which is something that not every writer can do.
Kevin: After writing Dick Grayson as Batman for a year it was fun seeing how his writing style changed with Bruce under the cowl. Bruce was much more of a silent Batman who is completely focused and is ten steps ahead of everyone.
Andrenn: I wanted to quickly mention the actual narration. Honestly, not every writer does the job well of getting inside Batman's head. Morrison tried it a few times and whenever he did it never came out quite right. Paul Dini did it well but other than that a lot of writers just can't quite sell the narration as well as Snyder did in this issue.
Kevin: I agree. I will say I liked what Morrison did with his run on Batman. He wrote Batman how I vision him sounding at that stage of his career. Especially with all the crap he threw at Bruce during his run on Batman. Much of what Snyder is doing with Bruce is similar to Morrison in showing more of the psychology that goes into being Batman which is the most interesting part of the character.
Batman is a character who does not have any physical or mental superpowers but what he does have is that he is able to use the psychology of fear along with his training to be seen as one of the best superheroes in the DCU.
Andrenn: While I agree Morrison did a good job of changing Batman overall, I still didn't like his narration. It always came off as uninteresting or unimportant. Here it ties in well to what’s going on, which is something Snyder has done often in American Vampire. He's always used narration well without over doing it. Which is something that a lot of writers will do in their comics.
Rather than have a few boxes through the pages that fit well into the story they like to pile on the boxes and it gets really annoying. Snyder paces the narration perfectly to fit with the action.
Kevin: I will say that for a first issue the narration was good but I don't want to see Snyder continue to give us as much narration as he did in this issue. There will need to be more of balance between how Bruce is out fighting crime as Batman and when he is in the Batcave. In the Batcave it is fine to get a bunch of narration but when he is fighting one of his Rogues Snyder will have to allow his artist to take over to show how cold and efficient Bruce is.
Andrenn: I don't think he will. Here the narration felt like Bruce preparing for what he'd say in his speech.
Kevin: The narration did was a good way to transition over to Batman's talk with Commissioner Gordon. It showed how Batman is a character that is always prepared and will be 10 steps ahead of his villains
Andrenn: I agree, though again I'm hopeful that will be the case. He's let the artist do the talking when it comes to the action of American Vampire. Batman was literally taking on a swarm of baddies and he got the job done pretty efficiently, with some help of course.
Kevin: The use of the "Joker" was definitely a surprise that I did not expect. This was more great character work by Snyder who showed that Batman does not always have to be a dark and brooding character that keeps his allies at an arm’s length away. It plays in well with how Bruce has changed since his return but does not rely on the reader knowing the continuity of Batman Inc. to explain Bruce having his allies help him
Andrenn: I totally agree, the addition of "Joker" to the fight was a fun twist and the way it shows how Bruce is becoming more accepting of his allies was well done. I can't help but hope that this means Dick, Tim and Damian as well as Babs show up in Snyder's Batman regularly. Though still keeping it Bruce's ongoing of course.
Kevin: Well, from what both Snyder and Higgins have said there will be some type of crossover between Batman and Nightwing with some of the subplots. The books won't be necessarily have an crossover. Instead, they will show how both Bruce and Dick view what the other is doing in Gotham, which is good to see. Having writers work together keeps a consistent voice across the books
Andrenn: At this point, Batman #1 looks to be the heart of the Bat-Universe, the center of it all which all the other Batbooks float around. Snyder has talked about doing something like that with Gail Simone on Batgirl as well, I believe.
Kevin: It’s not surprising because other than deaging Jim Gordon the Batman Universe is one of two character universe that has not been affected by the reboot.
Andrenn: Well, it’s been somewhat changed. Dick is now 19. So he can't drink. Barbara is de-aged a bit. Bruce himself looked a lot younger actually in this issue.
Kevin: Which is a problem with the new continuity since over in Nightwing it seemed to be implied Dick was Robin for the same amount of time he was in the original DCU then went to being Nightwing, Batman and back to Nightwing, but that is a discussion for another time
Andrenn: TIME PARADOX
Kevin: Going back to this issue, as a fan of the Batman books I've always enjoyed seeing Bruce work with all his Robins, Batgirls, etc. That is one of the important things about Batman's character that makes him standout. Sure, it is cool seeing the dark, brooding version of Batman. But, Batman is a character that, because his parents were taken away from him when he was a child, he does not want to see that happen to other kids.
Whether he admits it or not, Batman has built up a strong family of heroes that he has helped groom into having the ability to take on any threat and stand on their own two feet. Which makes having so many characters associated to him not feel like they are a bunch derivative characters such as Superboy, Wonder Girl and others since you barely see those characters interacting with their mentors.
Andrenn: It was cool seeing all the Wayne men together again. For a family that share the same house they aren't around each other often. The Batfamily has been the strength of the Batman books for the longest time and I totally agree with what you said. While they centered around Bruce in many ways they strengthen him as he strengthened them. Each one has affected him differently just as he's affected them differently which is great work from all the writers over the years.
Kevin: Snyder definitely treated Bruce, Dick, Tim and Damian as a tight family unite who aren't afraid to get on each others nerves, like Tim and Damian showed.
Andrenn: Which is why I think Batman will be a great book at the center of the Batverse. Snyder has a good grip on these characters and while it doesn't have to turn into a Batfamily ongoing (though one of those would be cool) that's important to keep them a part of Bruce's life.
Kevin: I did like Bruce and Dick's interaction before meeting up with Tim and Damian. It showed how much trust there is between the characters and that Bruce is able to act more like himself around his first protégé with his snarky remark about leaving Dick in Arkham for two days before he went in and started the fight. It’s the scene that makes this book feel like it more of a continuation of what Snyder has been writing for those who read his Detective Comics run.
Andrenn: The dialogue like that showed that Snyder is doing a great job with all these characters. There's a lot of stuff that the dialogue between characters that says a lot about them that could have been written out in exposition dumps and Snyder went the other route which I really enjoyed. Also, that shot of the Batcave? Gorgeous!
Kevin: That was one of the few good non-Batman pages that looked great.
What did you think of the idea of Bruce having a mobile Batcave while he is out as Batman?
Andrenn: I think it was a clever idea to add in more updated technology to Bruce's arsenal. Batarangs can only do so much.
Kevin: It definitely had a 007 vibe to it
Andrenn: It was also a nice way to add a tiny bit of exposition without over doing it like a certain Frankenstein monster's ongoing did this month
Kevin: Which is cool, but I have one problem with it. Batman is supposed to be a master detective and I like when he is on a crime scene where he is only using his skills he learned. I don't want to see Batman relying on the mobile Batcave to solve crimes for him. Batman needs to be "the Detective," as Ra's calls him, that is a key part of the character.
Andrenn: I think you're jumping the gun to say this will take out all the detective work suddenly. Yes it COULD be a cheap way to get around all the detective work but I don't think it will. I think it served as more of a character introducer machine and it will probably be used sparingly through the series.
Kevin: That's what I hope but from the dialogue it felt as though Snyder will have Bruce use it often only for it to backfire on him. At least, that is how I interpreted during my read through of the issue.
Andrenn: I didn't see it that way. I think Bruce views it as just one of many tools in his arsenal.
Kevin: Hopefully, you’re right.
Andrenn: I guess we should move onto my least favorite part of the comic, the dinner party. For me, it was the weakest point in the comic. While the speech was all right and it tied nicely with the opening narration it just read like your typical Bruce Wayne mingling with the rich moment.
Kevin: I agree that the speech was okay, but I did like Bruce talking to the various people at the party because it continues build the sub-plot of the new Mayor of Gotham not being a fan of Batman. It is something that was mentioned in Detective Comics #1 and seems to be one of the bigger overarching sub-plots for all the Batbooks. Which I find interesting and want to see how it will plays out as we see the Batfamily having to go against Gotham's government system instead of just the GCPD.
Andrenn: I do like that. It seems there is some great coherence going on through all the Batbooks. Clearly, the writers are keeping in touch and doing a good job of it. But to me it came off as the typical Bruce Wayne party scene that has been done a million times. It’s certainly not a bad scene, not at all, it’s just something we've seen before and there isn't much that really adds to it or makes it stand out.
Kevin: That is why I liked the scene and it will be interesting to see how the other Bat-characters handle the government not being there fans moving forward. We saw that Bruce was could have cared less but Barbara and the others may not take it as lightly in their books. The scene will be enjoyed by those reading most of the Batbooks than for those that are just reading Batman.
Andrenn: I like the implications of the government being after the Batfamily and dissaproving but I don't think those implications really made the scene any more interesting.
Kevin: It was a nice change of pace from the Batman scenes since this is a book that should be about Bruce as it is about Batman.
Andrenn: I am glad to see Snyder focusing more on Bruce Wayne over just Batman. I think that's something that has been lost. A lot of people have brought up how comic are focusing more on the super heroics over the characters and cast and it looks like Snyder wants to focus more on Bruce Wayne and those around him which is great.
Kevin: Yeah, I think that is great. It plays into the final scene were we again see a villain targeting Bruce Wayne and not Batman, as we also saw over in Tomasi's Batman and Robin #1.
Andrenn: That's what Batman needs right now. Bruce Wayne. We've gotten plenty of awesome Batman moments over the years. It’s time to remind everyone who is under the cowl is just as important.
Kevin: It helps to bring in a balance between the Bruce Wayne and Batman scenes. It also helps to bring in characters from Wayne Industries like Lucius Fox, who is underused in the main Batman books.
Andrenn: Definitely, we need to know that Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same person and that what Bruce Wayne does is just as important as what Batman does. It all keeps coming back to Batman #1 being the center of this Bat Universe and how if it has that right balance then it’s all right if The Dark Knight or Detective Comics focuses on solely Batman.
Kevin: Now for my least favorite part of Batman #1: the art. I know you are a big Greg Capullo's art style but I wasn't won over. His early fight scene at Arkham Asylum looked good but his art really was weak when it came to drawing people
Andrenn: I'm sure we can have a civil and calm deba-kill kill must die!
Kevin: Haha! I was fine with how he drew Batman but his characters outside of the mask all looked stiff and all of the characters reactions looked forced from panel to panel.
Andrenn: I disagree. While it wasn't perfect I still think he did a good job with the party scene. I don't think they looked stiff at all. And the reactions? Really? They looked fine. Maybe its a thing of perpsective but the art looks fine. I'm not saying this to heap praise on Capullo but I think his art saved the party scene from being even less interesting. (10 bucks for the first person who sees the Spawn reference I put in that paragraph.)
Kevin: I didn't think so. Bruce particularly looked like his face was dead from a face lift
Andrenn: He had a smoother face because it’s a younger Bruce Wayne.
Andrenn: I'm gonna go with the younger option. I just don't see where it looked stiff. I keep looking at these pages and they look fine to me. The story flows nicely from panel to panel, the characters are all well drawn. I'm not seeing it.
Kevin: To paraphrase Yoda "Your emotions are clouding your judgement. They are."
Andrenn: I love Capullo's art but I can admit when he does bad work. He had some less than stellar moments on Haunt that I called out before.
Kevin: Are you talking about that series from Image that you only read. What did you think of his Joker?
Andrenn: I liked his Joker a lot. I think it was a more simplistic take on the clown prince of crime and it worked well. It reminded me a lot of the Animated Series design with the dark around his eyes and the yellow teeth and I thought it was pretty creepy. I don't think it ruined the original design either. I think it kept true to Joker still looking like a clown. Just a creepier one.
Kevin: I thought he looked to light, and I like the Batman: TAS Joker but disliked the Batman: NAS redesign personally. He didn't really instill fear of what tricks he was going to pull. He looked more like a typical clown.
Andrenn: I think it looks more like TAS than NAS first of all. The yellow teeth and black around his eyes. I will quickly say I hated the NAS design. Way to simplified.
Kevin: That's how I see this Joker. To simplified and not the Clown Prince of Crime that everyone is scared off. But again this is a more personal taste than anything else.
Andrenn: This is definitely the part that comes down to taste. I like this design and you don't. I think its just simplistic enough without ditching the Joker's whole motif. Though that panel with Joker in the Batcave was messed up, his face looked sort of weird. THERE I SAID SOMETHING NEGATIVE ABOUT CAPULLO, ARE YOU HAPPY?
Kevin: Haha! I knew I could get that out of you. *Come to the Light Side my young Padwan*
Andrenn: Are you on a Star Wars kick or something? Stop that. Star Wars hasn't been cool since the 1840's
Editor’s Note *I just watched the first three movies before this review*
Andrenn: My personal score is all 9's. The story, art, overall, it’s a fantastic debut issue of a great new chapter in the long running Batman history. Scott Snyder was the perfect choice to get this new series going and as a long time Batman fan I loved it.
Now as for how new reader friendly it is? I'd give it an 8. If you are a total Batman virgin, never having even heard of the character or anything like that, all 2 of you, than this will be somewhat confusing.
It also isn't the best introduction to the Batfamily as a whole since they only briefly touch on who the other Wayne men are. But, overall, I loved it and give it a very high reccomendation. Its definitely the best of the New 52 books I've read and one I'll be telling anyone even mildly interested to go out and buy.
Kevin: My rating for the issue is a 9 for the story, 3 for the art and an 8 for the overall issue. The reason I don't do an average is because though I dislike the art the story was so strong that it was enough to carry this issue. Just as Scott Snyder showed during his Detective Comics run he knows how to write the Batman Universe, whether it is Bruce Wayne or someone else wearing the cowl. The story had a good balance between the Batman scenes and Bruce Wayne scenes were he interacted with his supporting cast
As for new reader friendlyness, I have to agree on this being an 8. The story moves at a good, quick pace that most new readers will enjoy but may be confused at why with who Bruce's supporting cast involvement. And like other books in this new DC Comics 52 #1 this issue is a bit too dark that it borders on being a T+ rated issue. Although that is an editors’ fault not Snyder who does not give the ratings to his books.
Overall, this issue of Batman proved with one issue to be the cream of the crop in a set of family series that have generally been strong. Scott Snyder continues to write one of the best versions of the Batman Universe that we have seen and he is not stopping anytime soon.
Now what were your thoughts on Batman #1? Did Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo blow you away with this issue? Disappoint? Or somewhere in between? Let us know by commenting below.