Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Detective Comics by Benjamin Percy issue #35

Detective Comics, you are going to fresh, exciting places before my very eyes! This is an encouraging development because it certainly feels like the people in charge are making decisions that are reinventing and improving the new content for this specific Bat-title and they have done something atmospheric yet again, a shorter piece whose brevity and message are its strongest suits. Now I'm still recovering from Manapul-Buccaletto's Icarus arc when new writer Benjamin Percy outright surprises me with this two-part storyline about airplanes and terrorism. That's pretty much too close to home for Americans, and even I who lives in Asia feels uncomfortable about it. 

The artwork by John Paul Leon is nostalgic for me. One can argue that everything about Batman in Detective Comics has been like that these days. Terminal, in particular, is like reading a comic book from the eighties, visually-speaking though the plot is definitely post-9/11. It's minimalist in scope and employs a lot of shading as oppose to bright colors. There is a mixture of smooth spaces and rough contours in each illustration and though it looks as if a panel or a page is overcrowded with details, the sketches themselves are simplistic.

It's an excellent art choice to illustrate the scenes for this issue as a surreal landscape because the story it's tackling is far too grim and ghastly even for a Batman comic book. It lends an air of horrors that have happened in real life once and I think that's what kept me reading this issue. It propels you forward, daring you to look through the wreckage, experience the quiet yet foreboding overall presence in the pages and taste the familiar terror that you'd rather not partake in.

Look, I like the gritty stuff too because mainstream entertainment these days (especially in some of the shows I watch) are telling very fucked-up stories that continue to push the limits of what is possible when it comes to contextualizing the darkness in our lives through fiction. I believe Terminal is such a piece, and it's a good thing that we only have two issues for this arc because what made it so distinct and special is that we don't have to read something like it again for Detective Comics again (at least for the time being) and I'd prefer that as well. Comic books are still supposed to be about escapism and entertainment and though the occasional mouthpiece pertaining to a social issue can't hurt, it shouldn't be a reinforced habit for comic book writers to do that especially when the intention is for shock value. Thankfully, Terminal only touches upon some sensitive issues such as biochemical warfare, terrorism, profiteering illegal organizations but its writer doesn't really provide his own two-cents on the matter because that's not what's important here for the story. The aim here is to give us an insightful piece of fiction that will allow us to examine the context of our own humanity in the presence of such global ailments. Terminal, in that essence, succeeds pretty damn well. Batman himself isn't really the focal point here at all but rather a set piece for the author's message to be delivered across.

Now allow me to share you some tantalizing spread. It would allow you to understand what visual textures you're going to get acquainted with when you do decide to read this issue for yourself. The first one is the airplane crash into the terminal area while the second image features Batman and an officer inside the cockpit itself with sickly-looking dead bodies all around them:


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