Greetings my fellow Gothamites and welcome to the tenth installment of Weekly Bat Signals where we discuss all things related to our favorite Dark Knight Detective or to put it a little more colloquially this is where we come to chat about the Bat and boy do we have a lot to get chatty about this week. First we are going to look at the big Bat news from New York Comic-Con straight from the mouth of current beatific Bat-scribe Scott Snyder in reference to the launch of a brand new weekly Bat-title as well as the long awaited New 52 debut of a fan favorite character who has been conspicuously absent from current continuity. Then we take a look at the outstanding issue #24 of Batman proper also by the superlative Scott Snyder. So without further ado let’s hit the Bat-poles and slide on into the news from New York.
Batman Eternal is the title of the new weekly series launching next spring and the creative team responsible for this book is beyond a dream team; writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley with the art duties going to Jason Fabok. I had to read this list twice to re-assure my disbelieving eyes but it is true Bat-fans. Scott Snyder says that the new weekly project, “Sets the stage for a new Gotham and new characters and a new set of stories that will take Batman into 2015” Snyder goes on to say, “We want this to be a place where you get to tell a story about anything you want in Gotham, so long as we are moving the big story forward in the background. You’ll see bombastic arcs but there’ll be plenty of room for Ray to explore some of the darker, more mystic aspects of Gotham that he loves or Tim to explore some of the crime we haven’t seen before.”
Snyder finished by saying, “We’re five guys doing our best to give you an exciting Gotham that’s changing under the feet of its characters.”
Next year’s Detective Comics #27 will be a mega-sized 104 page anniversary spectacular. Designed to be a tribute to the 1939 original Detective Comics #27 which was Batman’s comic book debut, the book will feature an all-star roster of past and present Batman creators. The issue will hit the racks on January 8 and consist of a modern re-telling of Batman’s origin by Brad Meltzer and Bryan Hitch as well as all new material by Scott Snyder with Sean Murphy, Peter J. Tomasi with Guillem March, Paul Dini with Dustin Nguyen and Gregg Hurwitz with Neal Adams also new art by legendary Dark Knight Returns creator Frank Miller. A murders row of some of the industry’s best artists created variant covers for this very special issue including; seminal seventies Batman artist Neal Adams, artist of All-Star Batman Jim Lee, incredible current Batman artist Greg Capullo, amazing artist of Batman Inc. Chris Burnham, ethereal Batman artist of the nineties Kelley Jones, fan favorite Patrick Gleason and the genius that is Mike Allred. This issue will also feature John Layman and Jason Fabok’s final storyline, Gothtopia before Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato take over creative control. Manapul promises Gotham will not suddenly take on the appearance of Central City.
In a final piece of Bat related news from New York Comic-Con, the long anticipated and much speculated about return of Stephanie Brown is at last a reality. The beloved Brown will make her New 52 debut in the pages of Batman Eternal #3 but as Spoiler not Batgirl. It remains to be seen how her relationship with Tim Drake will be affected by the changes made to his character in the New 52 continuity. It looks like 2015 is going to be the year of the Bat with all these great developments and projects to look forward to as well as the on-going Zero Year storyline it is a great time to be alive in Gotham City my friends.
Now let’s turn our attention to the current chapter of Zero Year this week’s issue #24 written by the superb Scott Snyder with art by the great Greg Capullo. Let me go on record immediately by saying the $6.99 price tag was at first a point of contention for me since I subscribe to so many titles my comic book dollar is already stretched to maximum capacity however after reading this issue they could have priced it at $20.00 and it would have been worth every red cent. This is the issue of the year, every single word; every pencil line that makes up this book is genius. This double sized issue ends the first chapter of Zero Year and kicks off the second in very dramatic fashion. We see the Batman in all his glory for the first time as well as see a possible, highly probable link drawn between Red Hood One and The Joker, however nothing definitive or concrete is set forth in the narrative. (There are acres of room for speculation).
Snyder does a magnificent job of including as many nods to iconic elements of Bat history as possible, for instance we see the first hints of the Bat cave as Bruce sits behind a pair of laptops, we witness the preamble of Batman and Gordon’s sometimes ambiguous working relationship and we get a showdown at A.C.E. Chemical plant that ends with a splash. Snyder is at the apex of his already stellar game with this issue as he handles complex story elements like the resolution of Uncle Phillip’s role in all of this with sublime procession and concise action. The suspense and tension are so taught as The Red Hood Gang search the darkened chemical plant for Bruce that it’s almost unbearable. Every page of this 64 page epic builds to a satisfying conclusion while opening the curtain for the next act.
Greg Capullo knows how to deliver the goods and he does so in spades here. His bombastic style and meticulous attention to detail make even the most iconic moments of Batman’s storied history same somehow new. Capullo is a survivor and anyone who knows anything about this man will concur. He brings that same gritty street level sensibility that served him when he was a young man knocking on Marvel’s door for work to his approach in drawing a 25 year old Bruce Wayne. He’s tough; he’s a fighter and most of all he is a survivor. Capullo’s Bruce is all attitude even down to his new hair cut but he can also back it up as we see in any of Capullo’s kinetically choreographed fight scenes. He brings it all to his Batman and in my opinion Greg Capullo is one of the very best Batman artists to date bar none.
The last ten pages of this book are written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with art by Rafael Albuquerque. The stylistic difference between these two artists may seem jarring on the surface but when you look at the energy that both of these awesome artists bring to the page I think you will see many similarities as well. Capullo is cleaner and more detailed but Albuquerque captures that same sense of urgency and emotion. I had absolutely no problem with the shift, both artists nailed the tone of the narrative spot on and that is what a great artist does. He interprets the tone of the narrative and uses his amazing talent to bring that story to life; again both these artists do that.
This issue is so full of big story elements as well as little gems that I would recommend reading it several times to fully digest and appreciate the wealth of plot points and iconic moments in Batman’s formative years. So if you are wondering whether or not this one is worth a couple of extra dollars, I say it’s a bargain at any price.
One last kind of random note here, the first Joker action figure based on his New 52 appearance was released this week and it is scary good. The sculpt captures the creepy essence of the Joker with his re-attached face in stunning detail. The figure is part of a DC villain’s line also featuring Captain Cold and Black Manta. I suggest grabbing one of these little beauties for a Halloween treat.
Well that’s going to do it for this week’s report from the heart of Gotham City to the convention floor in New York this has been your friend and humble narrator, Shawn saying I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you, see you next week same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
Follow Shawn Warner on Twitter: @shawnwarner629