Wednesday Comments – A Great Time to Be a Bat-Fan

I’ve been visiting Gotham off an on for a quarter of a century. I can remember collecting “Ten Nights of the Beast” as single issues. And I can distinctly recall two things about that story; how shocking it was when the KGBeast cut off his own hand to evade capture and how surprised I was when Batman left him to die.

From there I pretty much stuck around until Tim Drake became Robin. I mean, I missed a few issues here and there, but Batman was a book that I looked for on the newsstands. I do want to clarify that I was just reading Batman and not Detective Comics.

After that I usually only visited Gotham for special occasions. I collected the first year of Legends of the Dark Knight (which was the one book that I subscribed to that I neglected to mention last week.) I also picked up the first arc of Shadow of the Bat, mainly because by that point I’d become a fan of the team of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle and had even begun to pick up their run on ‘Tec.

And like any self respecting fan, I collected “Knightfall” in it’s entirety. It was honestly pretty cool seeing Batman get more and more run down week after week. But after that I was sort of burned out on Gotham. There were too many titles and too much going on.

I missed out on “Cataclysm” and the ensuing storylines. In fact the next time I ventured to Gotham was for “Bruce Wayne: Murderer,” which was an enjoyable story for the most part. I then returned for “Hush” and have been reading Batman ever since. With Detective Comics I jumped aboard for “Face the Face” and haven’t left.

But without a doubt this is the time that I’ve been the most excited to be a Bat-fan.

First and foremost you’ve got Scott Snyder on Batman, continuing that amazing work he’d begun prior to Flashpoint when he came aboard ‘Tec and made it a must read. Snyder’s work on Batman and Gotham as characters has been nothing short of spectacular. It’s been awhile since Gotham had buzz and lately it’s been due mainly to Scott Snyder.

Snyder’s created a Gotham that’s almost foreign to Batman because it still holds surprises around every corner. The Court of Owls is not only a menace, but an actual threat to Batman. And when you factor in that in his previous storyline Snyder reintroduced James Gordon Jr to Gotham as the creepiest addition to Batman’s rogues gallery since Mr. Zsasz.

Meanwhile the equally good, though not quite as epic, Batman & Robin continues the dream pairing of Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray. Tomasi had a knack for dialogue and crafting set pieces which allow Gleason and Gray to really flourish. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re working with the best addition to the Wayne Manor in recent history; Damian Wayne.

Tomasi gives us a Bruce Wayne who’s trying to do better as a mentor and hero, but failing rather miserably as a father. We also get to see the conflict that Damian is struggling with in terms of fighting against is natural inclination. And we also get The Nobody, someone from Bruce’s past who had an axe to grind.

Of course with four Batman books you’re going to have some wavering when it comes to quality and enjoyment.

With Detective Comics we have Tony Daniel continuing what he started with the pre-Flashpoint Batman. He’s telling stories using a solid mix of original villains and his favorite of the Bat-rogues. The Dollmaker was creepy, but his recent Penguin arc fell a bit flat.

Meanwhile Batman: The Dark Knight reads like the Batman tale David Finch wanted to draw, but had little idea how to plot or script. It’s easily the least enjoyable of the Batman books and honestly feels like it’s bordering on fanfic at times.

Despite that, the two highs of Batman and Batman & Robin overshadow the lows of Batman: The Dark Knight, and make the weekly trip to Gotham something I genuinely look forward to.

Let’s just hope that the upcoming “Night of the Owls” is as thrilling as it sounds.

Well, that’s all for me for this week. In the meantime, it’s Wednesday, go pick up some comics. And if you haven’t tried out either Batman & Robin or Batman, do yourself a favor and pick up some issues. You won’t regret it.

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