Published on April 9th, 2014 | by Brad0
My Week in Comics – 09/04/2014
My week in comics this week was quite cheap. Just the two books on my pull list, as DC seem to be scheduling everything that I like to come in the latter half of the month. The big title this week, and expect to see this place highly on the month-end sales list, is a new #1 in the world of Batman. The Caped Crusader launches the first of three planned weekly comics from DC with Batman Eternal.
The planned structure for Eternal is, as I understand it, a rotating team of writers (Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley, John Layman (soon departing to focus on the final year of his excellent creator-owned Chew and this week’s scribe James Tynion IV) will each write their own, short arcs, under the supervision of “show runner” Scott Snyder, he of the main Batman comic, with artists switching in and out as necessary. It’s a curious structure, smacking more of legendary disaster Countdown to Final Crisis than the masterpiece that was 52, but clearly we’ll see how that goes over the coming weeks and months. Certainly, this Bat-team has hit the right notes on Bat-crossovers before, with Night of the Owls, Death of the Family, Robin: Requiem, Zero Year and Gothtopia having all worked out more than well.
Batman Eternal #1
Story and Script by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Consulting Writers Ray Fawkes, John Layman and Tim Seeley. Drawn by Jason Fabok.
Batman Eternal #1 has one of the best opening pages of any comic you will read this year. A one-page flash-forward into the future, it’s a real “Holy sh-!, Batman!” opening, which sets the tone and promises an epic tale to come. From there, we are introduced to new character Lt. Jason Bard, arriving in Gotham for the first time, paying tribute to the Jim Gordon introductory pages at the beginning of Frank Miller’s legendary Year One. Bard’s opening narration is terrific, and his subplot throughout the issue put me in mind of Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central.
As we dive into the action, Commissioner Gordon is protecting a couple of children under attack from a biplane-flying Professor Pyg at the Gotham Aviation Museum. (Sometimes, a single sentence can perfectly encapsulate why I love superhero comics!) Pyg’s an interesting figure, a relatively recent creation from the magnificent Bat-era of Grant Morrison, he’s become pretty much instantly iconic, even transferring to TV in the now-cancelled Beware the Batman series on Cartoon Network. A psychotic drug-addled surgeon in a pig mask, he’s one of the best recent additions to Batman’s glorious rogues gallery.
Rising star Jason Fabok pulls art duties for the launch issue, and he does a wonderful job. His compositions are bold and dynamic, his use of light and shadow creates some stark images that will linger in the memory, and his eye for detail is just superb. He’s going to be a big part of Batman Eternal, and one to watch for a long time to come.
Batman Eternal is everything a #1 should be. It’s exciting, it’s enthralling, and it leaves you gagging for the next issue. Fortunately, it’s a weekly, so we’ll get that next Wednesday. I would recommend this book to anyone, Bat-aficionado to Marvel zombie to complete neophyte. Superb work.
Written by Ray Fawkes. Drawn by ACO.
One of the more intriguing elements, when DC announced its New 52 initiative back in the summer of 2011, was the return to the DCU of Vertigo characters who had their origins in the main universe, the likes of Animal Man, Swamp Thing and John Constantine. Constantine in particular is a character who has never played well with others. Created by Alan Moore, Steve Bisette and John Totleben as a supporting character for Swamp Thing in 1985, Johnny boy went solo in 1993 with Hellblazer, going on to have the longest-running Vertigo series of all time, 300 issues over the course of 20 years. Sadly, this was cancelled in 2013, and replaced by the DCU Constantine book.
Sadly, over the first 12 months, this book has been a bit of a disappointment. Not entirely its own fault, having been tied into line-wide crossover events Trinity War and Forever Evil since from July to March, covering two-thirds of the series. Those early issues showed some promise though, and now cut free of those confines, Fawkes and ACO produce the best issue of the book to date. The issue follows John confronting the Spellbinder, a wizard whose signature trick is to lock you inside your mind, with the only escape coming through facing one’s own demons. Which is bad news for Constantine, who has a fair few.
Separating his lead from the world-saving team-ups that have been a stone around his neck for the last few years, Fawkes finds Constantine’s voice very well this month. ACO’s art is weird, very off-kilter and unnerving, which fits the tone of the book and particularly the effect of Spellbinder’s magic very well. It’s not Hellblazer, by any stretch, but for a book that was teetering on the edge of my dropping it, it’s reinvigorated my interest a touch. Not for everyone, but fans of the character shouldn’t be disappointed.