Thursday, June 23, 2011

Comic of the Week

This week, the best book I read has a bittersweet taste to it because I'm not sure how much of what I liked about it will be explored down the line. Batman: Gates of Gotham #2, written by Scott Snyder and Kyle Higgins, with art by Trevor McCarthy, continues to tell the story of the builders of Gotham back in the 1800's. Meanwhile, in the present day, we have Dick Grayson as Batman, Tim Drake as Red Robin, Damian Wayne as Robin and Cassandra Cain as Black Bat, working together to figure out who's targeting the first three families of Gotham. The plot itself, and the way it gives us this history of Gotham is fine and solid. The mystery is intriguing enough. But what makes this book stand out for me is the relationships between the Bat family. This is exactly the type of thing that's made the Bat books so great the past couple of years and I hope the reboot in a few months doesn't waste what's been built.

Where the first issue was a showcase for how Dick and Tim work together, this issue is about Damian and Cassandra. Damian is a character that, in the right hands, brings a lot to the table. He's not a snot nosed punk. He has an attitude, but he's also well equipped to back that up. He's arrogant, judgemental and rash, for sure. But he's not stupid. He's also not afraid of anything, including offending anyone, with his version of the truth. And no matter how much the rest of the Bat family may bristle at his comments, they can also be affected by the grains of truth that come out of Damian's insults. His presence  adds an element of conflict that makes the relationships between the Bat siblings come alive. Seeing him team up with Cassandra and not be impressed is fodder for a whole series. One that we will likely never get.

Scott Snyder will continue writing Batman when the reboot comes, which is a good thing. However, he'll be writing Bruce, not Dick. I'm more than confident in his abilities as a writer, but I'll miss his take on Dick as Batman. Interestingly, Kyle Higgins will be writing Dick as Nightwing, so it's good that he seems to get the character here. I only hope the Nightwing book doesn't overlook Dick's time as Batman. Even though he is going back to his previous identity, his time as Batman has been a defining moment in his life. His relationship with Damian should also not fall by the wayside.

All in all, this book may not be mindblowing, but it is solid. It's a perfect example of what good comics are supposed to do. It delivers a solid story that comes through with consistent characterizations and interractions that ring true. It's really that simple.

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