The Comic Book Club: Batwoman, Detective and Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali

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GRAEME: I don’t know why I’m surprised by Detective Comics #871, the first issue by American Vampire’s Scott Snyder and The Losers’ Jock, but I am. It’s very much what I should have expected from those two creators, but it’s so tonally different from the Batbooks I’ve become used to from Grant Morrison that it wasn’t what I was expecting. In a very good way, though – I really enjoyed the slower pace and more character work that Snyder’s putting in here (The interaction between Dick Grayson and Comissioner Gordon was lovely, and I like that the relationship between the two is consistent whether Dick is Batman or not… I wonder if Gordon’s worked out that Dick is the second Batman?), possibly more than the larger adventure that is being built in the main plot. Between this and last week’s Batman: The Return, I wonder if I’m just washed out on larger conspiracy plotlines for awhile.

DOUGLAS: And, within the first two pages, another character loses his right hand. There’s your conspiracy, Graeme!

(More on Techland: Interview: Scott Snyder on “Detective Comics”)

GRAEME: Artwise, I’m torn; I like a lot of Jock’s little touches (the acting from Gordon in the conversation with Dick is lovely, and I like the heavier brushwork and shifts in lineweight he plays with), but there’s something about the drama of his choices of angle (so many tight close-ups in the conversation shots!) or off-kilter color choices from David Baron that make everything seem… I don’t know, melodramatic? Overwrought? I’m not sure. The art convinces less than the writing, this time around, but I do like the issue overall. I’ll be back for more.

EVAN: Didn’t dig Snyder’s work on American Vampire when I read it and haven’t re-visited that book. So this was a revelation. I’m a huge Dick Grayson fan, and my biggest concern was that his character would stall under the cape. But, the best thing about the two-Batmen thing has been that Dick has been very differentiated from Bruce, and I think Snyder does the best job of it.

The scene on the GCPD rooftop with Gordon was great for that. Dick was positively chatty and later when he strings up the the dirty cop, that smile was great.

(More on Techland: The Comic Book Club: Batman: The Return and Batman Inc.)

Y’know, as I read the first pages of the back-up, I wondered to myself, “Whatever happened with Gordon’s son?” Francavilla puts really great expressions and body language on Gordon and the moody coloring is so great, too.

DOUGLAS: I like the new look of Detective a lot–two schools of European cartooning in just one book! a departure from Generic Superhero 2010! Love that cover, too, even though I’ll never hear the phrase “black mirror” again without thinking of Arcade Fire. And I love seeing the birds and bats all over the place. But I also found myself wishing this issue were a bit more densely packed. The Gordon backup is effectively just an opening scene; the Batman story, despite a couple of canny elisions (love that transition from Batman stalking around Buck’s apartment and in his gun’s sights to Buck tied up and upside down) is three violent scenes’ worth of setup and a bit of exposition to tie them together.

I get, and appreciate, that Snyder and Jock and Francavilla and Baron are trying to establish a new tone for this series; I’m really glad it’s not much like other comics right now. I particularly appreciate Francavilla’s sense of color in his story–that splash page is really simple and really effective in a way I haven’t seen in any other American comics lately. But one way that Morrison’s Batman has spoiled me is that he’s got no patience for setup–either he cuts straight to the interesting part and suggests everything that happened before it with exposition, or he makes the mood-setting serve some purpose that tells us more about the characters. I don’t ever have to see Gordon get woken up by a middle-of-the-night phone call and sit up in his muscle-tee again.

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