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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Comic Reviews -- Week of Dec. 29

Batman: The Dark Knight #1:

This is Bruce Wayne doing what he does best -- being a detective. Much of this issue seems to be character filler. There's a heart-to-heart with Alfred, Batman kicking the crap out of Killer Croc, and a surprise ending. This seems to be all exposition, leading in to the bigger plot which will be doled out in small pieces. It's not bad, it's not great. It's a strong Batman comic, and it leaves readers curious as to where it's going. I liked a lot of this issue -- particularly Batman's cleverness and resourcefulness. I'd like to see Batman kick more ass in future issues, but I don't think that's something we have to worry about. David Finch has a good handle on how to write Batman, and I'm sure the series will only get better from here.

Nemesis #4 (Icon -- Millar & McNiven):

The first page of this issue is possibly the best thing about the entire series. When Blake Morrow reveals whom he believes Nemesis to be, I thought, for a moment, Millar had pulled a fast one over us. But this is Mark Millar writing, and instead we get a deus ex machina moment where Millar somewhat reveals the true identity behind Nemesis. And boy is it stupid. The story makes no sense once you find out who the villain actually is. The simplistic explanation of how a random person could possibly know so much about one man is so contrived that it seemed as if Millar got to this moment in the book, and then ran out of ideas so he had to invent an answer for the problem. What was more saddening was that there's a teaser for Volume 2 of Nemesis. This is a textbook example of "How Not to Write Comics." Pick it up for your reference shelf.

Echoes #1 (Minotaur -- Fialkov & Ekedal):

I wasn't sure what to expect from this. I flipped through it before buying it, so unfortunately I saw the last page before I read the story. Even knowing that, I was gripped by Echoes from beginning to end. Echoes is the story of a man who's father is dying while his wife is close to giving birth. On his deathbed, Brian's father tells him to go back to their old house and look in the basement for a box. When he does this (while he's dealing with psychotic delusions simultaneously), Brian discovers a horrifying secret, and one that I won't ruin here. Rashan Ekedal's art -- just black and white pencils -- work superbly here. I can't imagine the atmosphere being captured as well had this been done in color. There are enough plot elements, and character quirks to keep readers hooked. I have my own thoughts on how the title of the story relates to what will eventually happen, and I'm immediately drawn to Brian as a character, so I hope things work out for him. I'm not holding up much hope of that, however, because Joshua Fialkov has woven such a moody story that I can't see this ending up happily. And I think I'd be okay with that.

Bannen's Book of the Week
Detective Comics #872:

I was about halfway through this book before I remember that Scott Snyder was writing about Dick Grayson and not Bruce Wayne. This isn't a bad thing -- in fact, I think it speaks to the earnestness with which Scott Snyder is writing Detective Comics. He seems to understand the tonal differences between Bruce, Dick, Tim, and even Damien (although he's not present yet -- but I pray Snyder gets the opportunity to write him in). This issue is much like a train going downhill without brakes. Once it gets going, there's an urgency to the writing, and one that really captures the mania of the situation in which Dick finds himself. Jock needs to be commended for his art in this issue, particularly the last three pages where Dick is trapped in an horrific auction run by a psychotic auctioneer. Snyder must feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store, handed the keys to one of the greatest kingdoms in the DC Universe. So far, he's doing a great job. He's playing it cool now, developing character and story rather than going full on with the toys he's just inherited. I spoke highly of Snyder's American Vampire series, but seeing as that was an original idea, I didn't know what to expect. So far, I'm beyond impressed. This is a great series, utilizing the cornerstones laid by Grant Morrison. The story moves along quickly, gives us some nice character moments (particularly between Dick and Barbara), and ends with a great cliff-hanger. If you're looking for a time to get into Batman, it is now.