I am a comic book collector and happy to be one. I might say “proud” if I hadn’t, over a year ago, switched to reading digital as opposed to print comics. I feel a bit robbed of the tactile sensations of the hobby – of the turn of the page, the sneaking look to the panel a page over, the bagging and shorting and stacking and filing. Though I read my comics in a different medium than I used to, I still treat each Wednesday (comic book delivery day to specialty shops around the country) as different from the other days of the week. I subscribe and now, rather than go to the comic store to be handed the books pulled for my “Hold Slot,” I click a button on my iPad and watch them download.
Then I read them.
Rare is the week that I don’t read them all between Wednesdays and some weeks I have, well… let’s just say more comic books in my digital downloads than a grown man should. Comic book legend Will Eisner (creator of The Spirit) is one of the most influential men even to put pencil to drawing board in the pursuit of making comics. So influential was he that the industry awards (think the Oscars or the Emmys or the Grammys) are named The Eisner Awards. He called comic books “sequential art,” perhaps because he became embarrassed by his profession when he had to admit what he did for a living. This is my weekly reaction to the comics I read.
I read 10 comics last week: Darth Vader #3, Arkham Manor #6, Batman and Robin #40, Uncanny X-Men #40, Batman Eternal #51, Daredevil #14, Gotham Academy #6, The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1, New Avengers #32 and Wytches #5.
The best comic I read last week was Batman and Robin #40.
Batman and Robin as written by Peter J. Tomasi and penciled by Patrick Gleason has been a terrific read and a wonderful book to look at each-and-every month. Picking up where Grant Morrison left off must have been a daunting task for Tomasi, but he has taken a title that was really solid (if a little meta) and made a a tremendous super hero read. The writer must have children because he writes Damian Wayne, scion of the Batman, brilliantly as the perfect, petulant pubescent. No one who is childless could nail his voice so clearly.
The relationship between Batman and Robin is what makes this book go. Their dynamic was even at the core of the book when Damian was dead and Batman looked to find a way in which to bring him back to life. Tomasi somehow wove a plot of resurrection that included Batman battling friend and enemy alike, manipulating all to his own ends and reviving his son to surprising result.
When Damian came back, he came back with superpowers. Puberty is hard enough. Raising a teenager is hard enough. Try raising one who can punch through walls.
I was skeptical of this plot twist, worried that it might ruin the taut relationship Tomasi had created between father and son. I needn’t have been. This element became a metaphor for the parent/child relationship and a way for the writer to illustrate the love and affection between a father and son who don’t always understand one another but who’ve come to respect and love each other. Bruce Wayne as a parent is a great invention and Damian Wayne has been a wonderful character in Tomasi’s hands.
Patrick Gleason’s art has many attributes to recommend he. He draws dynamic action and his characters are clearly delineated from one another. His use of expression is very good as well and he can inject great emotion in a wordless scene. Anyone who read Batman and Robin #18 (which was an entirely silent issue) knows this. But, what I really love about Gleason is, unlike many artists working in comics today, he draws children like children. His Robin is recognizable as a kid, not a tiny, misproportioned adult, and this is a big deal. He’s a great artist and, as DC reboots itself again this summer, he’s about to get his chance to not only draw these characters but to write them as well.
I think Batman and Robin is in good hands with Gleason.
The last arc of this book has been so satisfying. I am sorry to see this team come to the end of their run. What a pleasure Batman and Robin has been. Frankly, it might have been the most consistently well done book of the entire “New 52.”