Batman #21

This is the first issue of Batman I have read since DC launched their rebirth line of comics. I was a fan of the Batman title during the new 52, and chose to follow Scott Snyder with All Star Batman. This issue has left me with serious doubts about my decision. Batman #21 is part one of the Button storyline that is a crossover with the Flash comic. If you didn’t catch Flash Rebirth last year, here’s the recap. Some funny stuff went on with the speed force and Wally West reappeared, leaving Barry with some serious questions about his memory since he was previously unaware that Wally ever existed. In the process of filling in Barry’s memory blanks Wally tells him “even now I feel we are being watched.” An ominous tone to the mood of their reunion to be sure. At the same time Batman is visited by a man, made of lightning. When that shocking apparition disappears the watchman button is embedded on the wall of the batcave. Batman and Flash collaborate comparing a letter that Flash has and the Button. They discover that the blood on the button exudes an unknown radiation. They agree these are troubling developments, but it’s probably best not to tell the rest of their superhero friends.

This issue has so many of the elements I want in the opening of a Batman detective story. First and foremost by the end of the issue I have all of these questions I need answered. Secondly its action packed. Batman has a lot of tools at his disposal in combat; I am the most satisfied when he brings his intelligence to bear. Batman either has this amazing forethought that allows him to pull the most obscure item from his utility belt, or the cleverness to take unexpected action in the heat of combat to turn the tables. I won’t say which but you’ll get one of those moments. Finally Tom King and Jason Fabok use the medium to slow down time. Alan Moore spends some time discussing what types of stories comics can tell best in his Writing for Comics, arguing that comics have more potential than being a storyboard for a movie or a novel with pictures. King and Fabok give you a fast paced issue while slowing time to a crawl. The whole issue takes place in, maybe five minutes. Just for good measure King gives us some graphic foreshadowing with the opener.

I don’t know how long Jason Fabok has been doing the pencils and inks for Batman, but I’m sold. I hope he does a fairly long run on the title, Batman will be in good hands. Jason has great detail and uses his inks to give you lots of shadow. His crisp inking still leaves plenty of room for color. The end result gives you a darkly detailed Dark Knight with vibrant comic colors making every page pop. Fabok’s depiction form in fight scenes is also great, getting all the skeletal stretch that make static two-dimensional drawings move and come off the page. His cover for the issue is top-notch, so good they made him draw two. The lenticular cover is so cool it even makes the back ad dope. It’s up there with the first time I used 3D glasses as a child. In short Fabook’s art is the kind of stuff that enthralled me with comics in the first place, and made their characters my teenage hero’s.

I apologize, it feels like that turned into a gush fest. What can I say Batman #21 is volcanic. It is a great jumping on point as it is the beginning of a new story arc. Thank you DC for doing the special cover, it’s what got me onboard. If I was actually talking to someone about this comic five minutes in, I am sure I would be silly and draw out the word and say Len-tic-u-lar.

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Champions #7

Is that burgers and brauts I smell cooking on the grill? No it’s the Champions getting cooked in a police interrogation room for beating up a couple of homeless guys! Wait, that can’t be right. My Champions don’t beat up the homeless. Can the Champions clear their name, restore their rep, and take the fight to the Freelancers? Also would your parents be more overprotective if they were androids? Yes, no, maybe. Find out in this months issue of Marvel’s Champions.

Issue #7 is an action packed episode featuring Ms. Marvel, The Totally Awesome Hulk, Viv Vision, Manuel Morales (Spider Man), young Nova, and time travelling Cyclops. Mark Waid is producing socially conscious plots that pit the Champions against super powered villans with the real world problems of human trafficking, and gender equality in the arab world hanging in the balance. While the plots deal with some complex issues of today, the presentation is straightforward making it approachable for readers being introduced to them for the first time. The rating on the comic is teen plus, but in my opinion it is appropriate for younger or even pre-teens. Or in the case of this reviewer thirty-somethings, a fact that speaks well of the product that Ramos and Waid are putting out or poorly about my ability to discern worthwhile reading.

Humberto Ramos has a really fun drawing style that feels like a natural progression of comic art. His characters have oversized heads, hands, and feet for the size of their bodies. None of them are overly muscled unless your name is Totally Awesome Hulk or Might. If you are a fan of the Marvel animation on Disney X D you will be pleased with the familiar look and high quality. Edgar Delgado’s vibrant, and I think digital colors help give this book a lot of curb appeal.

For me Champions is what one of my friends calls a value title. I am currently hooked on Ms. Marvel’s solo title and interested in, but can’t also collect Totally Awesome Hulk and the new Spider Man. I can ¬†however take part in some of their adventures and learn about Viv, Cyke, and Nova by collecting Champions. I really enjoy the team dynamic as well. They have lots of battlefield cooperation and just a little inter-team drama. Nothing like the soap opera feel of some of the team comics I ate up as a teen in the 90’s. (X-Men 90210) The Champions also have to deal with mercurial public opinion voiced through social media. This was something that was not a part of my teen world, but seems to hold a lot of attention for teens, adults, and presidents today.

Champions #7 is very good, and consistent with the quality of the series so far. If you are looking to check out a new super team, give the Champions a try. This issue is as good as any to get on board. You’ll miss the setup from last issue that lands the Champions on the grill, but it doesn’t really matter. The only question you have to answer is are you hungry for a Hulk Burger or an Optic Blast Braut?