Sunday, 29 March 2015

Batman #2 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 2, December 2011
One of the major differences between publishing rivals “DC Comics” and “Marvel Worldwide” is that the former ‘houses’ the majority of its super-heroes within fictitious cities predominantly situated along the eastern coast of the American continent. Some of these urban settlements, such as Stargirl’s Blue Valley are arguably locations known only to avid comic collectors. Whilst others, such as Smallville and Metropolis are places which are far more widely recognizable to the general public. Gotham City is probably the most famous of all though, a notoriety due entirely to the media explosion surrounding the character of Batman in both film, literature and comic books over the past few decades.

What makes all of these fantasy towns, conurbations and megalopolis’ believable however is the sheer attention to detail the writers of “DC Comics” put into making such places appear real liveable habitats… and Issue Two of “Batman” is a very good example of this, as Scott Snyder weaves a compelling story around Gotham City’s original Wayne Tower; both providing the barbican with a rich architectural history, whilst making it a relevant and a crucial venue within which most of the story’s action takes place.

And pulse-pounding conflict must certainly have been at the forefront of the American writer’s mind when he penned “Trust Fall”. For rarely during its twenty pages does the comic deviate from focussing the reader’s full attention upon the exploits of the Caped Crusader. Whether that be as the cowled crime-fighter himself, smashing his way into the cockpit of a helicopter full of armed robbers or as Billionaire Bruce Wayne, exchanging a flurry of blows with a masked assassin whilst wearing his best suit, this book is all about The Bat. 

Indeed, even when the pace of the storytelling does momentarily pause mid-way through and concentrates upon the corpse of “a genuine mystery man”, all eyes are still upon the World’s Greatest Detective as he conducts an autopsy ‘alongside’ Commissioner Gordon. Admittedly Snyder’s introduction of a virtual photogrammetric scanner in Gotham City’s Morgue is arguably a step too far into the realms of fictional technology, and disappointingly brings an end to the grim traditional charm of the vigilante skulking behind the policeman in the shadows. But such a minor quibble is easily forgotten and forgiven once the Court of Owls takes centre stage and the industrial tycoon finds himself fighting for his life at the very top of Alan Wayne’s Tower.

Fortunately artist Greg Capullo is more than up to the task of illustrating such an energetic series of events, especially giving the fist-fights the sort of raw gusto which is almost palpable. Even when Batman isn’t placing a well-aimed kick towards his opponent’s solar plexus, the former “Spawn” penciller captures all of the super-hero’s menace with some simply wonderful renderings of the Dark Knight’s narrowing eye-slits. Somehow bestowing a plethora of expressions to the figure through such subtle touches. Indeed it is genuinely hard to fathom why, with such a high quality issue, that sales for the title dropped by 16,000 copies upon its publication in October 2011.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 2 by Jim Lee

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