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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 5 comics last week: Batman #49, Avengers #5, Batman/Superman #29, Darth Vader #16 and Batman and Robin Eternal #19.
The best comic I read last week was Batman #49.
If we look back to my post about Batman #48, I bet I predicted that I would be selecting Batman #49 as my Pick of the Week this week and, I’ll call it right now: barring some terrific, running of the rails performance in the next issue, you can count on Batman #50 being the pick of the week it comes out, too.
Why? Why are these Batman books consistently so good? My guess is there are a great many comic book editors asking that same question. I am not sure the answer is simply that Scott Snyder is that terrific a writer. He is certainly terrific – there is no doubt about that – but I haven’t loved everything I’ve read by him in to the same level I’ve loved this title. No, it’s more than Snyder being great.
What happened in the New 52 Batman represents the perfect blend of creator (creators, actually – even though the superlative Greg Capullo is not on pencils this issue, he’s been as much a part of this title as Snyder has) and subject. Snyder seems not only born to write Batman, but to handle his supporting cast as well. From his shocking Joker, to his reinvented Riddler, to his spot-on Dick Grayson, Snyder not only handles the title character well, he also imbues the supporting cast with energy and fascination that most writers can barely muster for their lead, not to mention the supporting players.
Outside of Bruce Wayne, the real star of this run has been Alfred Pennyworth who emerges in these 50 issues as the father that Bruce Wayne always knew he had. The fact that Snyder has so deftly handled Alfred makes the events of Batman #49 all the more poignant.
If the next writer of Batman understands, as Snyder did, that the best Batman stories – and, in fact, the best stories – are about relationship, then, perhaps, we’ll be in good hands.
Man, I will miss Synder and Capullo when they go…