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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.
Comics I Read Last Week:
The best comic I read last week was Batman #50.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin and Various
In a week where Ta-Nehisi Coates’ and Leinil Francis Yu’s Captain America debut hit the stands, something very special was going to have to beat it as the best pick of the week. Batman #50 did just that.
I was not entirely surprised.
Tom King’s run on Batman, as I have mentioned time-and-again, has been utterly unexpected, exhilarating, emotional and breath-taking. This 50th issue was no exception. The final issue and culminating chapter of the story of the wedding of Batman and Catwoman, Batman #50 goes places that most comic books do not have the courage to go. Beyond the fact that it is a beautiful book – ace artist Mikel Janin is joined by some of the greatest artists of this (and past) generations who supply a series of full-page spreads – and is perfect on almost every technical level with twists and turns that amaze and delight, Batman #50 does something readers have come to expect from King, it wallops them emotionally.
In a series of scenes leading up to the nuptials, readers are presented with distillations of two of the most critical relationships in Bruce Wayne’s life: with Selina Kyle and with Alfred Pennyworth. It is pointless to rank which is the more affecting. Both are poignant. Both are heartwarming. One is affirming, the other shocking.
The total effect of Batman #50 and this arc overall is to redefine the character and set him up for the next series of issues and this is brilliantly accomplished.
I have read that many anticipate a darker, more sinister Batman to be the result of the events of this story. I, for one, do not believe that King would go anywhere so obvious.
He has not done so on this run at all.