Friday, April 24, 2009

Comic Reviews 4/22/2009 - Pick of the Week

This was one of the best weeks in comics that I’ve seen in quite a while. Here is the review for my Pick of the Week (Detective 853) Check back for the runner-up (Kick-Ass 6) and the rest of the reviews in a day or two. Click below for Detective Comics 853:

Pick of the Week :
Detective Comics #853
Story by Neil Gaiman
Art by Andy Kubert

As I said in my First Impressions post: “THAT is how you write a Death of Batman story!” This book was thoroughly enjoyable and I closed the book with a smile on my face at the end. Continuing the “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” story from last month’s Batman issue, Neil Gaiman continues to prove that he is one of the best writers, not only in comics, but in other media as well. For some reason I’ve only read a little of Gaiman’s comics work but now I’ll be working on catching up with his works little by little. What began as a semi-confusing story last issue, is more clear now but still has left a good bit of the story open to interpretation.

Gaiman successfully ties together many different canonical Batman stories along with some that have or may not have happened (I’m not too familiar with Silver Age stories). Those that have happened include Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum. Artist Andy Kubert does a great job of paying homage to the various artists and artistic styles from these stories, in the Killing Joke panels it looks similar to Brian Bolland’s style, and the same with Dave McKean’s painted hazy style for the Arkham Asylum bits.

We discover that Bruce’s “spiritual guide” is in fact his own deceased mother, who doesn’t really give us many answers but poses some more questions. There are many funerals for Batman, and many villains claiming to have killed him, as well as some heroes talking about how Batman sacrificed himself in the line of duty. All of these incidents are real, and have happened in the story. The explanation that I’m sticking with is that this story is a direct result of Darkseid’s Omega Sanction from Final Crisis, which forces a person to live a never ending series of lives over and over again. We see Bruce die many times and in the end of the book, he is reborn as a baby and will live through another life, including the death of his parents. I’m sure that others will come up with deeper subtext that I’m certain that I’m missing :-)

The story pace is well suited to this book and when you reach the end, you just feel….satisfied. Yes, that’s the right word, satisfied…which is something that many (most) people did not get at the end of Morrison’s RIP run. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy RIP, but this story was much more satisfying in the end. The story ends with Bruce Wayne, as a child, sitting in his mother’s lap reading The Goodnight Book but using his own memories. Goodnight Batmobile, goodnight giant penny, and goodnight mechanical dinosaur is recited as his life goes on in another cycle of never giving up his one man war on crime in Gotham City. A fitting conclusion to Bruce Wayne’s long run as the Caped Crusader which leaves a door unlocked for his inevitable return one day (probably after Blackest Night in my opinion).

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