Chapter One by: Scott Snyder (writer), Andy Kubert (pencils), Sandra Hope (inks), Brad Anderson (colorist), Nick J. Napolitano (letters)
Chapter Two by: Snyder & James Tynion IV (writers), Alex Maleev (art), Nathan Fairbairn (colors), Carlos M. Mangual (letters)
The Story: An angry and grieving Batman gets a reality check from a teenage girl.
A few things (with very minor SPOILERS):
1). The regular artists are missed. – The best way to find out how much people appreciate you is to go away and see if they miss you. Well….this comic really missed the talents of regular art team Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia. We readers have been truly spoiled by their excellence and consistency over the last 1.5 years. Suddenly, it is harder to pay attention to Scott Snyder’s nifty script because one is distracted by how poorly Andy Kubert draws teenage girls or how “massively detailed art” and “striking panels” are not necessarily “good sequential art” or how any editor thought that Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev were a great combo on a single issue. I guess I can understand how someone would think that Andy Kubert would be a good stand-in for Capullo because they do have basically similar drawing styles, but this issue showed that if you’re following Capullo you should just draw things differently and avoid the direct comparison because you’re going to look bad. Plus, Alex Maleev should be chained to a desk drawing Scarlet all the time with no Bat-distractions.
2). Harper Row is a fun character. – This is a neat little story that Snyder is trotting out with Harper Row. I like the idea of checking in with this young lady and her brother every 6-7 issues. Presumably the idea is to give her a starring role in a story-arc at some point (which will doubtless be followed by a new spin-off series). She’s young and fresh and it’s all about brightness and hope as a contrast to Batman’s horrible gloom.
3). But, “Angry Batman” is no fun. – Speaking of upset Batman, this issue made me miss the Dick Grayson Batman of the Old 52. I loved reading those stories about a Batman who was happy, smiling and generally wasn’t a dick to everyone. I know that Crabby Batman is a recurring theme of the series over the last 30 years, but I really wonder about the audience for this stuff. Grim Batman I can understand, but this dude who is always screaming at people just wears me out. To be clear, this is more a critique of story-direction than the craft. Snyder really does make you believe that Batman is a total dick (pun intended).
4). What is he upset about? – I wanted to think that Batman is upset about the Death of the Family, but for some reason I kept thinking that his rage was over a death of a character in that other Batman title that I don’t read. It’s actually very clever how Snyder was about to keep the story vague so that it “worked” with either interpretation, but I was bugged by the feeling that Batman was really over-reacting if he was just angry about Death of the Family. I mean, the outcome of that story was just that the Bat-family didn’t want to hang around with Bruce anymore. That warrants some gloom and depression, but probably not a 5 day bender of vigilanteism. Now….the death in that other Bat-book? THAT could trigger some rage, but I really don’t want to think that DC is causing Batman to be polluted by the other Bat-books. The Snyder/Capullo run on Batman is producing all-time classic stories that DC can sell as stand alone hardcovers for years. These are really timeless stories and that is weakened by the vaguest scent of crossover pollution.
Conclusion: By the standards of this series…..not the best. All should be fine when the regular artists return.
– Dean Stell