September 26, 2011

Crisis of Infinite Reviews: The New 52 week 3 pt. 1

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Written by: Arnab
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Batman #1
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capulo and Jonathan Glapion
Cover Artist: Greg Capulo
Publisher: DC

If Batman and Robin from last week was the book that showed you how things shouldn’t be done, this book would be the one that would do everything right. In most cases, when the issue starts off with a slew of rogues making an appearance, it just wouldn’t work. However, Scott Snyder writes a brilliant scene here showing off Batman’s skills, relationships, and even new technology. We quickly segue from the fast paced action to a family affair, as the Waynes lead an event to garner funding for Bruce’s plans for Gotham. While at the party, Bruce gets word of a murder that has taken place and rushes off to investigate. When he gets there, he is greeted by a series of surprises, starting with an unbelievable clue, a mysterious message, and culminating with a surprising cliffhanger.
Like I said, this issue was excellent, on all levels. I’ve been a fan of Scott Snyder’s for well over two years now, and in that time he has written an amazing Batman story, with Dick as Batman. So it only makes sense for him to write a story with Bruce at the helm, and if this issue is any indication of how the overall story will end I couldn’t be more ecstatic. From the very first pages we get a confident, happy to be home Bruce, and that can only mean one thing – terrible things are on the horizon. But before we get there, we get an awesome scene featuring the entirety of the main Wayne family. As a huge Batman fan (and a concerned Tim fan), I can’t tell you how happy this scene made me. It was a nice calm before the storm of chaos Snyder is likely to bring. The final cliffhanger was extremely well done. The set up was great, and even as incredulous as the situation is, there is still an underlying sense of tension.
As fantastic as the as the story was, it would be a mistake not to mention how much I enjoyed Greg Capulo’s art. He has this amazing attention to detail that is gorgeous to look at and isn’t distracting in the least bit. Capulo’s art has a cartoon-like feel to it, but the gritty colors and sharp line work really balance things out to make for an amazing to look at book. If for some reason you’ve kept from reading this book, stop what you’re doing and go read it. 5/5

Catwoman #1
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March
Cover Artist: Guillem March
Publisher: DC

Now separated from the Sirens, Selina Kyle is back to being a lone ranger. Except, as we learn in this issue, she’s not really a lone ranger. The issue starts off with her apartment being broken into and subsequently blown up. Unaware as to why this has occurred, and now out of a home, Selina turns to an old friend, Lola, to get some intel. She goes undercover and breaks up a wild Russian sex party, even losing control at one point when she comes across a man she believed to be in jail. Suffice to say when she was through kicking his ass, he probably wished he was there.
If you haven’t heard anything about this book yet, you’ve clearly stayed clear of all things comics on the internet. Women have regularly and tragically been overly sexualized and objectified in many mediums, but to a great degree in comics. This issue decided to test these boundaries with sexualizing women and take it even further. To read a more in depth look at how that plays out in this issue and in Red Hood and the Outlaws, read this well written post (The Big Sexy Problem…). I won’t go into the entirety of it, but I will say this much. The first couple of pages were ridiculous. As much as many fans would enjoy Bruce or Dick running around fighting crime in their skivvies, that doesn’t happen and it shouldn’t happen here, either. That’s about as much as I was offended, though. Her general overt sexiness and that scene with Batman at the end don’t particularly stray from her history as a character that uses her body to get what she wants.
All that being said, I thought that this was a pretty good start. It’s a relatively easy point for new readers to join in. There is the beginning of an underlying story, as well as some great action scenes that keep things interesting. The art is nice, but I can’t help but think I’ve seen better from Guillem March, because I have. The thing that I haven’t heard anyone talk about, even though they should be, is that Selina no longer knows that Bruce is Batman. I think that’s complete crap. It totally renders stories like Heart of Hush, House of Hush, and Gotham City Sirens pointless. Plus, the Selina/Bruce relationship has been a favorite of mine for a while now, and I couldn’t be more disappointed by this. 3.5/5

Nightwing #1
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer, and Rod Reis
Cover Artists: Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer, and Rod Reis
Publisher: DC

After two years (real time) as Batman, Dick Grayson is back as Nightwing. The issue starts off with Haly’s circus returning to town for the first time since Dick’s parents were murdered. Not yet ready to visit his old home, Dick instead takes out a low level thug on the train. After a night’s rest, Dick decides to bite the bullet and goes to Haly’s circus for a visit. Here we get to witness Dick’s relationships with the crew of the circus, and it’s nice to see that side of his life. Things get bloody soon after he leaves, though, as an assassin comes after Dick Grayson.
When Dick Grayson became Batman I was ecstatic. Even if there were two Batmans, it made sense. Dick reverting back to Nightwing was one of the biggest problems I had with the new DC, and now having read this issue I’m not 100% convinced, but I’m getting there. This issue wasn’t perfect, it certainly had some rough edges, but overall it was a really good start. Unlike in Batgirl #1, Higgins doesn’t shy away from Dick’s past stint as Batman, nor his change back to Nightwing. The story stays fairly simple and is very new reader friendly. There aren’t any random references, the characters are written well, and the story is easy enough to follow. I did find one thing particularly strange, though. At the beginning Dick mentions how his tenure as Batman made him better in general, but then towards the end two cops are killed on his watch. There just seems to be a disconnect there. The art was nice. The line work was great, the colors were nice, and other than a couple weird moments it was all around a great looking book. 4/5

Red Hood and the Outlaws #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artists: Kenneth Rocafort
Cover Artists: Kenneth Rocafort
Publisher: DC

The issue starts off with a bang (no pun intended), with Jason Todd rescuing Roy Harper. The two of them are able to safely escape with the help of a powerful ally, Starfire. While Roy and Starfire take a break from life, Roy gets a mysterious visit from Essence, pulling him back into a part of his life he thought he had left behind.
There has been quite a bit of controversy surrounding this issue, along with Catwoman as aforementioned, and while I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that women are being portrayed overtly sexual in comics, I’m not sure I completely agree in this particular case. The main reason being that Starfire is an alien and this is a reboot. What I mean is this – in the past, aliens have been regularly shown to have humanistic tendencies and views on life in general, and I think that that is nonsense. Without a doubt, I believe there are other creatures living in this vast universe and I’m hard pressed to believe they all share the same beliefs we do. I don’t want to read about aliens that look and act exactly like humans do, there’s no point to that. As such, I think it’s preposterous to hold the creative team to write Starfire in the same manner we would expect them write human females. The fact that Starfire has been portrayed differently in the past holds no meaning here; that’s the point of a reboot. However, I should add that in this case, the fact that Starfire does look exactly like a human female certainly makes for a compelling argument that the treatment of her as a sexual object is as damaging and sexist as if she were an Earthling.
That being said, I enjoyed this issue. I have been a fan of Jason Todd’s for a long while now, and I’m glad he’s headlining his own title. The issue was written with a young voice to it. Not pre-teen young, but more late teens, early-20s young. I think that that’s perfect for the cast of the series. I had been wondering what happened to Roy ever since reading Green Arrow and now I know. The story is interesting, it’s filled with action, and there’s a definite direction to it. All that aside, the best part about this book is the art. Kenneth Rocafort knocks it out of the park in this issue. I’ve been a fan of his work for a while now, and it’s great to see him land art duties on this title. 4/5

Be sure to check out previous editions of Crisis of Infinite Reviews by clicking here!

Arnab Pradhan