Saturday, April 1, 2017

Batman by Scott Snyder and Tom King [ R E B I R T H ]

The DC Universe Rebirth is a "2016 relaunch by DC Comics of its entire line of ongoing monthly superhero comic books. Using the end of The New 52 initiative in May 2016 as its launching point, DC Rebirth restored the DC Universe to a form much like that prior to the 'Flashpoint' storyline while still incorporating numerous elements of The New 52, including its continuity." Many of these titles now have a twice-monthly release schedule and cost about $ 2.99. 

And yes, I straight-up copied that from Wikipedia, sue me. I have been out of touch from my comics for months now because of other preoccupations. I would do my research better next time, which I did too, particularly about new Bat-writer Tom King himself. The man's a multi-tasker since he's currently writing for DC, Marvel and Vertigo. Before doing Batman, he's written for Grayson and outside of his comics career, he joined the CIA counterterrorism unit after 9-11. So that makes him a badass by default. He had an original superhero graphic novel afterwards, and I suppose that explains why he would be a perfect fit to write Dick Grayson becoming an undercover spy in the aforementioned series, and why he's writing for the flagship Batman title now. King's credentials are pretty damn impressive, so I'm definitely intrigued now to see what he can offer content-wise for his run for Batman. The man interned for Chris Claremont as an assistant writer for X-Men too! Just WOW.

This Rebirth issue is a prologue of some sorts, although most readers might mistake that with the relaunch, issues stamped with Rebirth on different titles meant that there's a continuity here that goes back to the official major story of DC Rebirth. It's not the case, though. Batman: Rebirth is a standalone story much like the others which I think should be the case so that readers who only prefer to read Batsy's adventures and follow them religiously can just focus their energies on this title and other Bat-related titles as oppose to purchasing other titles with Rebirth stamped on it that had nothing to do with the Dark Knight. But I digress.

Interestingly enough, this was a collaborative work by Snyder and King. I suppose one can take it as the predecessor passing the torch to the successor symbolically here by writing a collaboration, and in some ways I think it works well. Overall, Rebirth wasn't exactly a stellar standalone. The small moments of dialogue and callbacks to classic roots are what made this issue great, but as a sum of all its other parts, Rebirth just didn't hold that much weight as a standalone. I liked it for those small moments, though. Such as the dialogue exchange between Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox because it was funny (thanks to Fox's dry sense of humor and easy comebacks) as well as enlightening (how Fox managed to get Wayne Enterprises back from government control) if not entirely meta (how comics would usually have their billionaire heroes claim back their empires without that much difficulty).

Mike Janin's illustrations were invigorating to look at in spite of the darker color palette that made most of its panels muddy and not as polished as one might expect. We don't get to see Batman get into thrilling fight sequences here and instead he faced a singular foe in Calendar Man...who apparently has supernatural powers now? I don't have a problem that his characterization has changed because I believe it at least made him formidable enough, and the concept of him aging as seasons turn (and that means he dies by winter and gets reborn again in spring) was for me brilliant, but I sure hope we get an actual explanation about the sudden shift of his representation in canon. Speaking of characters, we're getting Duke Thomas as the new addition for this series. He's not entirely new, though, so to speak. He first appeared back in Zero Year when the Riddler shut off the power in Gotham City and challenged the citizens to 'get smart or die by natural selection' because as the Riddler, he gets to be an asshole. 

Zero Year is hands-down my most favorite story arc from Snyder's run, but even I have to research who Duke Thomas is again because I've forgotten all about him for a moment. What we all need to remember foremost is that Duke Thomas has the worst luck. After that debacle during Zero Year, he had also suffered during Endgame during Joker's crazed seige in Gotham. His parents were subjected to the mind-controlling gas. In the meantime, Bruce just offered Duke a place to stay in the mansion while they try to figure out how to reverse the effects of the gas. He also offered him a place by his side as Batman while he fights crime. Duke said he has no interest in becoming the next Robin and even quipped that 'Robin doesn't need a Batman' which is just rude. But Bruce countered that he wasn't offering to train Duke as Robin at all, so way to go on being presumptuous. I for one would like the last Robin to be Damian Wayne, so this is good news. And then Batman showed him a yellow outfit that Duke apparently has to wear now. I'm not sure how to feel about Duke for the time being. I wasn't happy about his snarky comment but I'll give him a pass.

The issue ends with Calendar Man being reborn once spring rolled around. So I guess we'll be seeing more of him and hopefully we finally get a reason why he has powers now all of a sudden. Bruce and Duke are training together by kicking trees which I believe is an improvement on subtlety for Bruce who was doing pull-ups on a skyscraper next to the helicopter pad during the first few pages of the issue. I mean, look...I'm a woman who digs Bruce/Batman very much so that piece of fanservice tickled my ovaries, don't get me wrong, but other than that why would Bruce Wayne even do something so exhibitionist which might only call to attention that he is Batman? My best guess is that it was done for the ladies because ladies read Batman comics too, and we totally would appreciate some shirtless superhero acrobatics thrown our way every now and then as we flip the pages. 

Now was there sarcasm laced within that appreciative statement of my gratitude on behalf of all women for Snyder and King (and Mike Janin most of all) who drew Bruce Wayne in tight black shorts as he hangs suspended on the skyscraper, all sexy perspiration and rippled muscles glistening under the golden sun? You will probably never know, nerds.

It just wouldn't be summer without a sexy Brucey hanging suspended thirty stories high of a skyscraper


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