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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 8 comics last week: Detective Comics #945, Action Comics #968, Titans #5, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, Star Wars #25, Wonder Woman#11, Civil War II #7 and Han Solo #5.
The best comic I read last week was Detective Comics #945.
When DC relaunched their comic book universe with Rebirth, the did something very cool with Detective and Action Comics: they returned both books to their original numbering. So, while the majority of DC books are in double digits (and likely to be renumbered prior to them ever reaching even issue 100), Detective and Action Comics are approaching 1000 issues. Impressive. The decision to renumber pays homage to DC’s vast and sustained publishing history and to the staying power of Batman and Superman who have been the headliners for the overwhelming majority of Detective and Action Comics respectively.
The new story arc James Tynion IV is crafting in Detective is called “The Victim Syndicate” and it is both clever and involving. The set up (surprisingly similar to the current set up on the CW’s Arrow, by-the-way) is that there has been collateral damage created in Batman’s war on crime and those victims of Batman’s initial villains have found powers of their own and have banded together to suggest that the real enemy is not Batman’s rogues gallery, but Batman himself.
While it remains to be seen if the villains themselves will have any staying power in the overall Batman mythos, the conceit is engaging. It is made all the more pertinent in the context of what Tynion has done with Detective Comics since its relaunch. He’s populated the book with Batman’s sidekicks being trained by Batwoman to fight the war on crime. They believe they’ve already lost Red Robin to the cause – they haven’t but that’s some good dramatic irony – and now the Victim Syndicate suggests to the trainees (especially to Spoiler) that the root of the issues that plague Gotham City may well be Batman himself. Nice twist.
The rotating art is a bit uneven from issue-to-issue and its particularly challenging here. Though Al Barrionuevo and Carmen Carnero do fine, their styles don’t seamlessly blend and the combination of the two is a bit off putting. They are both good, but the quality of the work is not entirely on par with the drafting of Eddy Barrows who handles many issues of the title. The inks and colors of Scott Hanna and Adriano Lucas lend some consistency, but things seem a bit off.
So it’s all the more a testament to the great story Tynion is telling that this was my favorite book of the week. And who wouldn’t like a book with actual dialogue on its cover! I’ve not see that in years!