Best Shots Extra: BATMAN #1, WONDER WOMAN #1



Batman #1

Written by: Scott Snyder

Art by: Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion and FCO Plascencia    

Lettering by: Jimmy Betancourt

Published by DC Comics

Review by: Jeff Marsick

'Rama Rating 9 out of 10

When Scott Snyder took over Detective Comics, he all but reset the status quo on that book, turning it from just-another-book-about-Batman into a smart and edgy monthly must-read that earned its title. Now Mr. Snyder's over on Batman with Greg Capullo on the pencils and the question is whether the two of them can do it again, namely breathe life to a book that's been in need of attention for some time.

The issue starts off fairly typically: a slugfest between Bats and those silly Arkham rogues who are thinking that oh, this time they're going to best the Dark Knight. They don't, especially when Batman twists the tables, seemingly enlisting the Joker to help him out. Wait. Joker? Allied with Batman? What now? Relax. It's all part of a plan which is later revealed, a peeling back of opacity on the man's intentions and machinations, exposing a layer of Sun Tzu-ness below. After a benefit party to raise investor interest in Bruce Wayne's future vision of his hometown that will include towering structures straining to pierce the perpetual veil of gloom that shrouds Gotham City, Batman starts on the meat of the book and the first arc. A dead body in an alleyway, pincushioned by throwing knives, an ominous warning about the coming demise of Bruce Wayne. Problem is, the implicated murderer is someone near and dear to our hero.

Scott Snyder is a fantastic writer and he's no less so on this book. Dialogue is natural, never forced, and his version of Batman is as the character should be: the world's foremost detective armed with all the best gadgets that billions can buy, and a battlefield general with Bobby Fischer's three-steps-ahead vision. The only thing I didn't care for was the facial recognition software that he employed at the party, the one that pops up a cap box at every person he talks to, strictly for the benefit of the reader. It comes across like a cheap "Who's Who," affording unnecessary annotation in a scene that comes off as distracting. That hiccup aside, Mr. Snyder does what he does best, tempts the reader with a mystery then walks away and leaves us wanting the next installment now.

I think Greg Capullo on this book's pencils is genius. Then again, I've always loved his Spawn work. Here he's working a more cinematic approach with action scenes that move and the occasional Breyfogle flourish that he puts on Batman. Of course, he has a great support team of Jonathan Glapion's inks that are just-enough and the colors by FCO Plascencia that paint the lady Gotham dirty and dark, just as she should be. If there's a problem anywhere it's that all of the principles look alike. Dick, Tim, Damian, Bruce and mayoral candidate Lincoln March are all cut from the same DNA template. When Lincoln and Bruce get together, unless you're reading cues in the dialogue, you can't tell which lantern-jawed, bit-nosed, dark haired and tuxedoed alpha male is whom.

Batman #1 is a solid hit for this creative team and it's a very well done book. Scott Snyder doesn't make his mysteries easy to solve so this first arc isn't going to be a book you tear through in a few minutes, rather it's something you savor and take your time exploring. And with Greg Capullo on pencils, it's going to be a great ride.


Wonder Woman #1

Written by Brian Azzarello

Art by Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson

Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher

Published by DC Comics

Review by Vanessa Gabriel

‘Rama Rating: 9/10

Wonder Woman is arguably one of the most difficult characters to write, or at least that is what many people say. She has the weight of being the leading lady of comics as well as cultural icon. With such a convoluted history and so many facets of the character to choose from, how does a writer decide what works and what doesn’t? Brian Azzarello’s opening issue of Wonder Woman partakes of the tried and true Greek mythology that has defined Diana for many. And it works.

Within the first three pages, Ares and Hera make their mysterious debuts. With intentions unknown, something is stirring in the Pantheon. The effect is trickling down into man’s world, as these things tend to do. The Greek gods are as meddlesome and morally ambiguous as ever, making one feisty country girl by the name of Zola a pawn in their game of incestuous chess. Magically, Diana finds herself as Zola’s protector, setting the stage for a meaty but classically Wonder Woman story.

Wonder Woman #1 spends many of its panels planting seeds for the coming story. Using only a few lines of dialogue, Azzarello still manages to capture Diana’s voice, demeanor, and essence pitch perfectly. When faced with Zola’s dilemma, Diana is quick to protect and fight for the innocent, but she doesn’t have time to coddle anyone. Some writers have ventured to remove the character’s steely detachment, but it is part of her charm and makes for amusing moments. I am glad to see it here.

Azzarello may or may not be taking nods from Greg Rucka’s fan-favorite Wonder Woman run, but I can see some subtle parallels in the way the gods are interacting with man’s world. I am absolutely okay with it. Azzarello is a strong writer all on his own, but I’d count him wise if he showed reverence for Rucka’s Wondy. Whatever doubts people may have had about Azzarello handling a superheroine, I think issue #1 is enough to quell them. It is clear that he understands who Diana is, and I cannot wait to see what he has in store.

If I have any concern, it is with the subtle but many references to the Greek mythology. I hope it isn’t too esoteric for a new reader, and that the story will offer an explanation for their significance as it relates to the character. Otherwise, I fear some may be put off by the weight of the references.

While we still have much to learn about Azzarello’s Diana, the reveals in Cliff Chiang’s art ring clear and true. Chiang could not be more perfect for Wonder Woman. Panel after panel says, “Amazon!” It is in the way she moves and the look in her eye. She is fierce, regal, beautiful, and really TALL (something that is overlooked by many artists). This guy is an honest to goodness phenom when it comes to comic book art. His work is not overly wrought with detail, but emotion spills out of the character’s expressions and movement, and energy radiates from the action sequences. The art in Wonder Woman #1 is nothing short of stellar.

On a quick side note, the million-dollar question over the last year can finally be put to rest. Is it pants or no pants? Surprise! Diana has a closet full of armor and clothes. We actually see the closet! She can wear whatever suits the occasion. Let’s all just consider the case of the controversial costume closed.

Azzarello and Chiang’s Wonder Woman is a stunning mesh of mythology and reality, which embodies what Diana is. Wonder Woman #1 is a glorious beginning, and I am grateful that our warrior princess has returned.

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