In Marvel comics it has become an ongoing, in-universe joke that Wolverine appears in more titles each month than would seem to fit into the life of any person, super or not. You’d almost think he shares the super-power of duplication with Madrox, or at least occasionally borrows Hermoine’s time turner.
Batman shares a similar status (eight and counting this month), but his multitude of appearances typically occur in and around Gotham. It’s not much of a stretch to picture him swinging through Batwoman on his way from Detective Comics to Batman & Robin.
Super-scheduling aside, the challenge facing any over-saturated hero is differentiation – how are the appearances different, and appealing to different audiences? Wolverine has it in spades – some books with X-Men, others solo, more with Avengers. Spider-Man gave up on it, and now he’s down to one main title that comes out constantly. There’s a new issue, like, every other day.
Batman is presently supporting three solo titles (four, if you count Robin), and I honestly don’t see much point in that beyond Bat-saturation. Batsuration? I’m definitely Batsurated, and it’s only week three. Why not move to the Spider-Man model?
Written by Scott Snyder, art by Greg Capullo and Jonathan Glapion
Rating: 3.5 of 5 – Great
In a Line: “Are you asking me if you were convincing as a homicidal maniac?”
#140char Review: Batman #1 treads lightly between gory DC#1 & goofy B&R#1 w/a solid mystery & fuller cast. Capullo’s art is perfect. Expect more good things
CK Says: Buy it.
Batman #1 packs a fun meaningless brawl, a portentous business move, and a grim mystery into one tidy debut issue that wisely cedes the “thrill-a-minute” crown to other Batbook debuts in order to sketch a fuller picture of Bruce Wayne and his cast of characters. Scott Snyder hits all the right beats and keeps Bruce in costume for just enough pages.
I love the device Snyder uses to set the tone, with Batman distractingly narrating a relatively rote mission with an editorial about the Gotham Gazette. If it’s a little glib it can be excused for being such an effective device for setting the stage of Gotham, as well as Bruce Wayne’s intentions for it as both a philanthropist and a superhero.
Greg Capullo is absolutely perfect for Snyder’s grim Gotham with a sliver of hope. His textured work never gets too dark thanks to inker Jonathan Glapion and a subdued set of desaturated colors from FCO Plascencia. I might even prefer his monstrous, deranged Joker to the lithe asexual one in Detective.
While villains get tons of line-work and toothy grins, Batman is portrayed simply – black cowl, lantern jaw with a slash of a mouth and a tiny furrow for a chin. The rest of Capullo’s Bat family is all dashingly, boyishly handsome. His version of the cave is expansive, but still claustrophobically hemmed in by columns of rock. His brightly lit ballroom scenes aren’t as striking, but they shouldn’t be – and I got a visceral thrill from the first scene of Bruce back in costume.
It’s hard to make an always grim Batman anything but flat and predicable – the issue becomes about gadgets, villains, and violence. Snyder’s Batman has dimension and a sense of gallows humor. In Detective it was all gallows and no laughs, and in Batman & Robin the latter was all maniacal giggles all the time. Only here does the millionaire playboy turned city defender really come through in the personality of our hero. While he’s not a wise-cracking Spider-Man, that doesn’t mean he has to be a humorless soggy cape, either.
Should you buy Batman #1? I say yes. Detective Comics was more of a classic and Finch might be more of a scorcher on art this week, but Snyder and Capullo find a comforting middle ground that pays homage to all of the versions of Batman we’ve grown up with. Perhaps devout Morrison fanatics will find this too plain-jane in anticipation of the return of Batman Inc, but otherwise it’s sure to please.