Sunday, 23 October 2011

Batman #1 / Wonder Woman #1

Here are two more comics I downloaded from Comixology.  Two more comics from DC’s ‘New 52’, in fact.  Considering I had very little interest in DC’s recent reboot, I seem to have downloaded rather a lot of their new number ones, don’t I?  So far, I have downloaded Action Comics #1 (didn’t like it), Frankenstein Agent of SHADE #1 (not bad), Animal Man #1 (also not bad), Swamp Thing #1 (pretty good), and now these two.  That’s all the ones I was even remotely interested in apart from All-Star Western #1, the title I was most interested in, which I probably won’t download at all now as I am intending to buy the eventual trade paperback collection (but I bet the bastards at DC release it as an overpriced ‘deluxe’ hardcover first and make me wait about a year for the TPB).

I started off not liking Batman #1 very much.  It began with yet another breakout at Arkham Asylum and Batman, with a little help from a friend, taking down several of his greatest foes – Killer Croc, The Riddler, Mr Freeze, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Professor Pyg, etc. – over the course of just a few pages, which makes you wonder how this lot ever managed to give Batman so much trouble in the past.  Writer Scott ‘American Vampire’ Snyder’s narration also seemed a bit heavy handed to start with, and I wasn’t particularly taken with Greg Capullo’s art during the breakout, as it seemed a bit too much like the Jim Lee-inspired art on display in a lot of modern DC comics (which is fine if you like that sort of thing, but I don’t – Jim Aparo is the best Batman artist ever, as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise).  However, as the comic went on, I warmed to it.  Snyder’s Dark Knight Detective seems to be just that – a detective – and after the initial, obligatory action sequence in Arkham, he goes on to investigate a (very gory for a mainstream DC comic) murder using just his smarts and billions of dollars worth of forensics equipment, rather than beating information out of informants, etc., which makes a change (although I’m sure he will get to do some beating as the story goes on).  What also makes a change is Bruce Wayne’s plans to use his fortune to redevelop some of Gotham’s poorer areas, which might prove a more effective way to combat crime than dressing up as the world’s most expensive bat and punching poor people.  Greg Capullo’s art grew on me as the story went on, too.  I think I just didn’t like the way he drew all the super-villains in Arkham, but everything else was rather nice.

Like most of the other ‘New 52’ comics I read, this doesn’t seem like much of a reboot at all.  I mean, this doesn’t even try and restart the Batman franchise from day one.  Not only is there no new origin for Batman himself, most of his old foes seem to already be well-established criminals, plus former-Robin Dick Grayson is already Nightwing, former-Robin Tim Drake is already Red Robin, and Damian Wayne is already the current Robin, so this Batman has clearly been around long enough to burn through a couple of sidekicks.

To tell the truth, I am not a massive Batman fan and therefore I am not the target audience for this comic.  I only bought it because it had received some good reviews and because it was written by Scott Snyder, and I didn’t really expect to like it that much.  In the end, though, I thought it was pretty good.  I’m not sure if I will bother buying the second issue, but if I ever see the TPB in my local library, I will definitely check it out, and I’d quite like to read some of Snyder’s earlier Batman work, too, as I keep hearing good things about it.

Wonder Woman #1 looked amazing, thanks to artist Cliff Chiang, and writer Brian Azzarello (who I’ve always considered a bit overrated) has written the least boring Wonder Woman comic I’ve ever read.  But that isn’t really saying much.  This issue was action-packed, violent, gory, and even a little bit sexy, but I didn’t really understand what was going on.  Some horses were beheaded, some creatures grew from the horses’ neck-stumps, they tried to kill a girl, Wonder Woman saved her.  I’m sure it will become clear who this girl is in the next issue, or at least several issues down the line, but I’m not sure if I can be bothered to stick around and find out.  Again, though, I’m not really a Wonder Woman fan, am not really the target audience for this comic, and only really bought it because it had received a lot of good reviews.  Azzarello, perhaps wisely, has set this series firmly in the world of Greek mythology, so if you are in to such things, you may enjoy this comic more than I did.  Unfortunately, my interest in such things is low.  I might read the TPB if I saw it in my local library, but if it weren’t for the great art, I probably wouldn’t bother.

Cost: As was the case with all the other ‘New 52’ comics I have bought, I downloaded these from Comixology.  This time, though, instead of getting drunk and downloading them on the day they were released, I waited a month and got them a dollar cheaper than I would have done if I’d been less patient / less sober.  In other words, these cost me $1.99 each.    


  1. Well now see me being a fan of the mainstream and all, I am a fan of Batman and I am a fan of Wonder Woman (least boring WW comic ever, seriously check out Gail Simone's run if you haven't as its great) so yeah I was a safe beat with both of these. Well aside from the fact that I tried to resist Batman on the basis I was getting 18 of the relaunch titles and needed to cut back and I have like a gazillion good Batman stories already. Could I possibly have room for more....but since I'm a big fan of Snyder's Detective run and think Chiang is probably the perfect artist for WW and got um both.

    A few reservations aside I enjoyed them both too. Batman was just solid fun and had enough to convince me that Snyder (where does that y go?) will come good once he relaxes into the story later down the line. At the moment a few of the number 1s seemed to struggle with the pressure of it all and try too hard. Not a bad thing for the aims of the project just didn't always work for me a seasoned DC devote, but then that's a good thing I'm sad to say.

    WW was a great comic, whether its a great WW comic is still to be seen. Alas again since I'm a bit of a WW nerd the fact it might not yet have hit all my WW buttons will be the least of DCs concerns. I really think it was a great comic and would have had enough to it to draw in new readers (present company excepted!). Heck they know I'm along for the ride for a wee while yet. Still enough to make me enjoy it and look forward to more.

    Have to say though the issue 2s have by and large been stronger than the issues 1s based on reading the first two weeks worth. Unshackled the writers all seemed to cut loose a little more and do their thing rather than the mandated project thing. At least that's my take with no knowledge of how mandated the issues 1s were of course!

  2. I probably should have pointed out just how few Wonder Woman and Batman comics I have read in recent years. I read the first Straczynski issue of WW (which I didn't like) but apart from that I don't think I had read a single solo Wonder Woman comic since that George Perez series from the '80s started (I wasn't that keen on that, either, and gave up on it pretty quickly). Other than that, I have probably only ever bought a handful of Wonder Woman comics (when I was a kid). If they have the Gail Simone WW stuff in the library, though, I will check it out. This new WW comic does seem to have been very well received and I didn't think it was bad, it just wasn't for me.

    As for Batman, well, I read and enjoyed most of Grant Morrison's Batman stuff - even though I am not usually a Morrison fan - but lost interest in it before the end. And other than that, I don't think I have read more than a handful of new Batman stories since the 1980s. I do want to read the second issue of this new Batman series but haven't decided whether or not to buy it yet. I definitely want to read his Detective stuff and might by the TPB when it comes out.

    P.S. The only new DC title that I am definitely going to see through to the second issue is Swamp Thing. I may or may not continue with Animal Man and Frankenstein.

  3. 'This new WW comic does seem to have been very well received and I didn't think it was bad, it just wasn't for me.'

    Damnit if you're going to split with her at least be honest with her don't resort to cliche!

    "Diana its not you it me, I'm just in a different place right now"

  4. Okay, okay. I'm seeing someone else. His name's Batman. Happy? I was just tryin' to break it to the poor girl gently.

  5. Oh, you're just part of DC's Hype Machine, aren't you? How much are they paying you to big up their line like this?

    Or... how much would they pay you to stop? ;-)

  6. I'll stop now. I only reviewed these because I haven't read many other comics / graphic novels lately. In fact, I think part of the reason I bought these in the first place was so that I would have something I could read and review quickly, which is hardly living on the ration, is it? The next couple of comics I review will be things I bought in charity shops!