I always get the urge to walk inside when I pass by a comic book store, but I’m frankly intimidated. I haven’t even remotely kept up in, quite literally, decades (not since I used to buy comics at the 7-11 style convenience store near our home in Norfolk, Virginia when I was a kid).
But I read about DC Comics relaunch, The New 52, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to start fresh and maybe keep up with a series.
There’s a comic store near my office, and I was in a frustrated kind of mood. It was actually about money troubles, which makes purchasing comic books sound counter-productive, but I needed the distraction and, oddly enough, doing this would, I felt, give me a certain feeling of accomplishment.
Because the various series have, nonetheless, been out for a while, I’m like 13 issues behind, so I went for one of the bound collections containing the first six to seven issues.
I told me story, in brief, to the owner and asked for his help and recommendation.
Firstly, he told me I’d be better off buying one of the bound collections, because he was unlikely to have the first thirteen issues of any of the series in stock.
He himself particularly enjoyed Batman, Batman & Robin (there are, something like three of four New 52 Batman series, including the original ‘DC’ of ‘DC Comics’ – Detective Comics), Wonder Woman, and Swamp Thing.
I’d rather had it in my head, as a sort of token nod to history, to get either Detective Comics or Action Comics (which is Superman), but I settled for the owner’s advice and got Batman.
Batman is still friends with Robin. And Actually, several former ‘Robins’ have advanced on (one becoming Darkwing and another becoming Red Robin; the current Robin in this series being uncomfortably young looking for a reader approaching early middle age who has concerns about child endangerment). This was a little worrying, not being a fan of the whole concept of the Robin, but it worked okay here, not in the least because none of the current or former Robins were major players (though the oldest former Robin and current Darkwing looks to maybe be a bigger player in future issues).
The artwork was generally very good, though Bruce Wayne and a mayoral candidate named Lincoln looked entirely too much alike (strong jawed, broad shouldered white men; the only way I could be sure is that Lincoln brill creams his locks while Bruce Wayne sports a disconcerting looking, mussy, curly, bedhead thing). The fight scenes were well done and walked carefully that fine line between the Batman who is just a really fit guy in a black and grey suit and Batman who something more, who is, well, a superhero. Good work on closeups of the face and using those to advance the emotional core of the story and to dramatize the inner life of the characters.
They build this new mythology about the ‘Council of Owls’ well (though the whole ‘owls eat bats’ thing is a bit of stretch for me) and I’m looking forward to reading further issues.
And I think I’m going to start reading one other – maybe Aquaman. Or Action Comics. I’ll see what happens when it happens.