I’ve spent the greater part of these last few months (close to a year now) writing about some of the best comic book stories available to you in graphic novel form. For those not savvy with the lingo, a “graphic novel” is a collected edition (either a hardcover or a paperback) of either multiple comic book issues or one, big story.
In essence, it’s a really big comic book.
So the next time you walk into a comic book shop, don’t fear to ask for a “comic book” and expect to be shooed out. No decent, customer caring comic book shop would ever do that. We’re not all like the television show “Comic Book Men”, one of the worst things to ever happen to comic book shops.
Most of the time dedicated to this column has been to talk about comic book stories that have already been published, and that’s what those “graphic novel” thingies are. Completed stories. But what about a story that is still in the process of being done? Where and what do you read? Who do you suggest it to?
Or better what, what about a friend/child/relative/random stranger on the street? What do you give them?
That is the primary purpose of Comic Matters. To recommend the comics to you so you know what to read. Now, there are literally hundreds of stories that I have yet to get to, and I plan on it in time, but I think that once a month or so, I should dedicate some time to comic books that are still being published in the time honored tradition of: monthly.
I’ve done this once or twice before, looking at a comic book series still being released once a month, but this time I’m going to arrange it in a manner that breaks down each part of a comic and who should be reading it.
So, I present to you the very first: Comic Matters Review-o-Rama!
Or, I may just call it Comic Matters Reviews. Or you know, it really doesn’t matter.
For our first outing, I’m selecting a series that just started at DC Comics as part of their New 52. Now wait, didn’t DC already do their big reboot all the way back in September? How is this possible?
Well, easier said than explained. DC actually ended six of those comic books that launched as part of the New 52. They told their stories. Bam. Done.
Now, they’re releasing new series to replace the ones that ended. One of them features a return to form for one of the best comic book series in the last few years. And it features: Batman.
Comic Matters Reviews: Batman Inc.
Issue to Pick Up: #1! (It just started.)
What’s it About?
This is not your typical Batman comic, I can begin by saying that right now. By “typical”, I mean that if you are a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight movie universe, this is not the same slice of cake. No, what this series offers is something much grander.
This series sees Batman battling crime on a worldwide scale. What happened was, a few years ago, Bruce Wayne had a notion, and it was that crime is an idea. So, if crime is an idea, then Batman is the opposite answer to that idea. This led to the creation of Batman Incorporated, a worldwide effort for Batman to stomp out crime once and for all, recruiting masked men from around the Earth to help fight and wear the symbol of the Bat, which has become the greatest form of marketing I have ever seen.
So, that’s what happened. This series picks up on that. See, this is the 2nd volume of “Batman Inc.”, launched with a shiny new #1 and it throws you right into the middle of the action. Are you gonna be able to understand everything going on? Yes, but the questions you have will be good.
Batman and his newest Robin, young Damian Wayne (That’s right. Wayne. This is his son.) are in hot pursuit of a goat-masked criminal. As they pursue their adversary into the middle of a meat processing plant, they’re ambushed by more goat-masked criminals. See, this is all a set-up. The criminal organization, Leviathan, has placed a half-billion dollar bounty on Robin’s young head, and everyone is after it.
Leviathan being the organization that is meant to battle Batman Inc. Who is it being lead by? Thalia Al-Ghul, the mother of Robin. (If the name “Al-Ghul” sounds familiar, if you saw “Batman Begins”, Liam Neeson played “Ra’s Al-Ghul”, Thalia’s father.)
Author: Grant Morrison
If only credits could speak for this man enough. Known as the most influential writer of the past few years, Scottish author Grant Morrison has brought rejuvenating life into every new series he writes. From Superman to the X-Men to even the most outrageous independent comics of his own creation, Morrison has a knack for the unheard of and strange.
What Morrison has done with Batman the last six years of writing him is take the ideals of Batman and literalize them. What I mean is, the concepts that make Batman (i.e. The never-ending fight for justice, war on crime, etc.) have taken on a literal form. Morrison took the idea of Batman, a figure hiding in the alleyways that fights against crime, and made it a worldwide idea. Something so simple that no one thought of before.
Isn’t that the mark of a genius?
Artist: Chris Burnham
Now, I’ve only ever seen the Batman artwork that Chris Burnham has drawn but it’s all been great so far. In fact, it’s some of the best comic book art I’ve seen and not for the reasons that people think.
See, I think the stigma among people that don’t typically read comic books is that it’s all a bunch of over-muscled men with spray painted on costumes that do not at all reflect and sort of realism.
Burnham, however, dials back the muscle tone a bit and does a lot more with body motions and movement. Things from the way that Batman and Robin leap over their Batmobile to Robin floating like the world’s best trained gymnast, consecutively knocking out a ring of thugs, the artwork flows in such movement it feels animated.
I think, though, my favorite page is one of Batman and Robin swinging across the city while talking to each other. If you get a chance to, pick it up, find that page, and fall in love like I did.
Why Should you Grab it Now?
Everyone loves Batman. Well, that’s exaggerating a little bit. Mostly everyone loves Batman. And who wouldn’t love a good Batman comic?
Better yet, who would not love a great Batman comic? Especially one that makes you think about such a well established character in such a different way?
Who Should be Reading it?
Anyone over the age of 13.
As much as I love Batman, this one’s a little intense, but not so intense that any respectable teenage wouldn’t love it.
Actually, it’s unfortunate that my students are now on summer break, because I can think of a few of them that would be capable of handling this story.
So, there it is. The first of what will be many Comic Matters Reviews. If this series sounds interesting to you, go out, pick it up, and let me know what you think.
Or, better yet, give it to a friend. You never know who you might get hooked.
In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. He recommends each and every comic he writes about. Contact him at email@example.com
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