Batman #1 - 'Knife Trick' - Snyder, Capullo and Glapion
Story - It must be strange having to write an introductory number one issue for Batman. I mean, who really needs an introduction to Batman? Well all know the deal, rich kid, dead parents, training montage, gets ass kicked, bat smashes through window, Batman! It's ingrained into our consciousnesses really. We all know who Batman is, so the challenge is to make us care. Scott Snyder does a decent job in this second ever Batman #1, but I'm not sure if the way he got us to care was a trick or not.
Snyder is one of the best new writers in the business, but he does have a tendency to over-use caption boxes in his superhero work, and this issue features a running commentary from Batman throughout, in which he discusses what exactly 'Gotham is...' but really, Snyder is attempting to define what Batman is these days. So we see Batman at the very top of his game, he's got a new costume with cool new gloves, and he takes out an army of his most dangerous villains fairly easily. We see that Batman is embracing technology more than ever before, first with Dick Grayson wearing an 'EMP Mask' in order to impersonate the Joker (a twist I'm still not sure whether I liked or not) and then with his new contact-lens computer, which allows Bruce Wayne to take the Batcave's databanks wherever he goes. Snyder cleverly uses this device not only to show how Batman is stepping up his war on crime, but also as an expository device for the reader, showing us who each former Robin is (because Capullo's art does make them look a little similar) as well as Vicki Vale and new character Lincoln March.
It is March and Bruce Wayne's speech in this issue which bother me the most. I feel like I've read Bruce Wayne make a big speech about 'forging a new Gotham' about 50 times now, and it's never followed up on. Writers do this speech, and then get distracted by the villains they are writing or the next Bat-Event or whatever, and so the next relaunch has the same speech. Hopefully Snyder will be the writer to buck the trend and have Bruce's pledges actually mean something, but at the moment, it had me rolling my eyes. The same is true for Lincoln March, who is just so obviously either a villain or linked to a villain. He's this year's Tommy Elliott and we all know it. Again, I have faith in Snyder to twist this a little, but so far, it's nothing I haven't seen before.
Thankfully things pick up again when Bruce heads out as Batman again, investigating a mysterious murder. This scene was classic Batman in a good way, showing a crazy situation, and then showing Batman slowly work it out and then throwing us a curve-ball in the revelation that Dick Grayson is apparently the murderer. This is why I suggest that Scott Snyder has made us care with a trick, because obviously Dick Grayson has not become a killer and a murderer, I mean, Nightwing #1 also came out this week. So this is most definitely a ruse, and nobody in their right mind would believe it. It's a cheeky cliffhanger for sure, but it does do it's job in that I want to read #2 not to see why Dick is evil, but to see who is behind it and how they framed him. With so many #1 issues out this month (and not just at DC) each book has to fight hard to get us also buy #2 and beyond, so I suppose this ending is a good thing, but it still feels cheap. And of course the title of the story is 'Knife Trick' so it is on purpose... but still!
On the whole, this was a strong first issue, it showcased Batman in almost all of his aspects, we saw him kick copious amounts of ass against weird villains, we saw him flex his playboy finances as Bruce Wayne, and we saw him deduct stuff as the world's greatest detective. Anyone who is unfamiliar with Batman gets the full bat-profile here. Snyder also showcases how Batman has changed and has moved forward, but still some cliches remain. The last page shocker may have been a bit cheap, but it did it's job, and while I'm not as convinced as others that Scott Snyder is the second coming of Bill Finger, this was a solid Batman comic and one I'm interested in following.
Art - I was intrigued to see how Greg Capullo's art would look free from the clutches of Todd McFarlane. The artist had worked on Spawn for about 10 years and then moved straight on over to Toddy Mac's new series Haunt, so his inextricably linked with the Baseball-collecting litigious Canadian, but is actually a damn good artist in his own right and did a good job here, albeit with some issues. I wasn't sure about his reinterpretations of some of Batman's villains (Mohawk Riddler? Ugh!) but we don't know for sure if he did these redesigns. Another issue is that a lot of the male characters look exactly the same, the panel where Bruce stands with Dick, Tim and Damian is crazy, like a Bruce Wayne Russian Doll or something, they look the same but smaller each time. And when Bruce is chatting with Lincoln March... they look the same again. But when Capullo is out in the streets, drawing Batman, it looks awesome, like a cross between Frank Miller and of course Todd McFarlane. So the Batman sequences are awesome and the Bruce Wayne sequences need work, but overall it's strong dynamic stuff. Oh, and I got a kick out of how Harvey Bullock looked exactly like either Sam or Twitch.
Best Line - 'The party? He's using it to remember who you are, Drake' God I love Damian Wayne, he's such a dickhead.