Wednesday, May 28, 2014

[New 52] Batman by Scott Snyder issue #12

This issue of Batman might as well be read as a self-contained story and nothing else. Numbered right after the Owls saga, I wasn't really sure why Synder wrote this piece in, except to introduce Harper Row into the Batverse since she will eventually play a more prominent role later in the series. Nevertheless, this was actually a nice break from the Owls storyline (whose second arc I wasn't completely sold with, as I've expressed before in my official review).

I was instantly endeared with Harper Row in this issue because Snyder definitely cared about her as a character and it shows with the way he portrayed her. A young girl living in the fringes of society with a younger gay brother, Harper is independent-minded and very protective of her only family especially from the harsh realities of a city like Gotham. What I enjoyed most about this issue is the quality in which Snyder wrote Harper's inner monologues, particularly on her thoughts about why she chose to become an electrical engineer and why it meant so much to her to be the one who fixes the electrical grid of the city, which has some level of sheer poetry to them:

"Gotham's electrical grid is nearly a hundred years old...It's old and rickety. It shouldn't work anymore. That's the thing. But if you take the time to fix this and that, put a little spit and elbow grease into it, the grid endures. And the light stays on...I look at the lights in the windows of the bodega, or the street lamps on my block...And I think, if that old piece of junk can keep going, then so can you."

At this point, I was already fond of Harper. Her devotion to her brother is another thing that would really make you warm up to her as well. Another charming characterization that Snyder utilized is one that made me think about Doctor Who and how the companions usually respond to the Doctor when they cross paths with him. And this is exactly what happens to Harper. She was taken quite easily with the Dark Knight; after all he rescues her and her brother from some neighborhood bullies and even looks cool doing it. Those three set of panels where Harper's expression turned from surprise to pure bliss as she watched Batman disappear into the night might just be how I will react if I was part of the DC universe and I got the chance to see Batman myself. Naturally, she tries to know more about Batman, and discovers something about one of his operational utility which has something to do coincidentally with Gotham's electric grid.

Harper wants to show gratitude so she tries to aid Batman with the best way she can as he fights crimes in the streets. I don't want to spoil exactly what that is so you'll still have an incentive to read this issue yourself but I can feel Harper's excitement upon stumbling on this very lucky discovery. Her heart grew extra sizes just knowing about it, that's for sure. I know mine would! But underneath the layer of initial and unsurprising fangirl-ing that Harper displays for Batman is also a genuine and slightly desperate way of a young girl trying to connect with someone who is larger than life, hoping it will make her life exciting just by standing close to that light. For the first time in her life, she has someone to believe in and aspire to. From here on, I get Harper because I know her. I have been her before and in some ways, I still am--especially with Batman.

Ghost in the Machine is a great story all by itself. It was an effective and earnest introduction to a new character who will have a role to play in the coming issues someday.


* Rated high because of how much it appealed to me emotionally.

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