Sunday, 26 April 2015

Batman #12 [The New 52] - DC Comics

BATMAN No. 12, October 2012
It is hard to imagine that many of the 125,249 people who purchased this comic in August 2012 were terribly impressed with Mike Marts’ decision to use not only two different writers but two separate artists as well when creating “Ghost In The Machine”; especially when the transition from one creative team to the next is so bone-jarringly obvious in quality.  Admittedly there is some logic as to why the title’s editor invited guest artist Becky Cloonan to draw the first twenty-one pages of this overly long periodical. Besides the former “Conan The Barbarian” penciller being “the first woman to draw Batman in the main series.”

Scott Snyder’s arduous, though serious and important storyline focuses upon the exploits of Harper Row, a twenty year-old woman with a talent for fixing things and who is as independently fierce as she is clever. As such she is clearly a character with which the American illustrator could identify with even down to her having “had a similar [short] haircut when I was twenty”. However Cloonan’s somewhat imprecise, rough-looking style is infuriatingly inconsistent throughout and at times disappointingly resembles the work of an aspiring adolescent as opposed to someone talented enough to draw for all of the leading comic book publishers during the past decade. Snyder may well believe “Gotham is a better place” for the Pisa-born artist’s work and that her depiction of Harper “practically jumps right off the page.” But for many it would perhaps be arguably more accurate to say that the penciller’s concerns about having “some stage fright going in to this book” were well founded.

Fortunately two thirds of the way through Issue Twelve of “Batman”, at a stage set just after the Dark Knight has rescued "Miss Row" and her brother Cullen from an unpalatable homophobic beating, the New York Times bestselling writer is replaced with his frequent collaborator James Tynion IV. Such a move heralds a much needed injection of action into the proceedings as the Caped Crusader battles a tiger whilst onboard a speeding cruiser racing down the underground sewers of Gotham City. Breathtakingly dynamic is an understatement, as the superhero fends off the large hungry cat, bloodies the villainous Tiger Shark’s mouth and knocks Harper clear of the runaway ship with a ‘wumping’ Bat-bullet almost simultaneously.

Such an energetic sequence of events is superbly brought to life by the finely detailed drawings of Andy Clarke, who dishearteningly for Cloonan, really shows how a Bat-title should be illustrated. Even the more sedentary scenes where the Dark Knight informs his ‘helper’ that she isn’t to do so again because she’s “finished” are incredibly well done, with plenty of emotion visible on the character’s faces.
The variant cover art of "BATMAN" No. 12 by Bryan Hitch

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