Friday, November 18, 2011

Comics of the Week - Tension and Class

There are many challenges to writing a good mystery. It can't be too difficult to solve or it will be hard for the reader to follow. It can't be too easy of a solution, or the reader will be ahead of the story and if the main character is meant to be a great detective, they will come off looking dumb. Overall, the mystery has to make sense. On top of this, the author has to slowly give you bits and pieces and maintain a level of tension that only more answers will release. All of these challenges are met, with mastery, in this latest issue of Scott Snyder's Batman. Bruce thinks he knows Gotham better than anyone else. He's the world's greatest detective. And yet, this story is about a mystery that was right under his nose the whole time. Watching him uncover it, in all it's creepiness, was to be put off balance, just as he must feel. The story telling in this issue, from both Snyder and Greg Capullo was outstanding. The Council of Owls is a great addition to the Batman mythos. It's creepy, mysterious and menacing. It brings the right amount of conspiracy to the table, and it's somehow quite believable. I could see this story being a David Fincher movie.

There's been some talk on the internets about the changes to Wonder Woman's origin. Some people aren't too happy, but I think they are way off. This is great. Previously, Wonder Woman was made of clay by her mother, Hyppolyta and brought to life by the gods, so she had no father. This issue reveals that this was just a story, a legend, told to protect her and others from the truth. Hyppolyta had an affair with Zeus, who is Diana's father. What makes this work is that the clay story remains. As a matter of fact, the other Amazons used it to taunt Diana, calling her Clay. So, by the end of this issue, it really plays out in beautiful, symbolic form that she is breaking away from her past, as if emerging from a clay shell, while telling the Amazons not to call her Clay anymore, or Diana. She is now just Wonder Woman. It's a very elegant way to re-energize the character without having to go through a whole convoluted identity crisis like they did before the reboot. Azzarello really raised the bar here in terms of using origins to define a character. And Chiang's art is breathtaking really. His layouts are clean and economical, perfectly balancing the story. Wonder Woman looks gorgeous without the need for exaggerated sexuality. It's just plain classy.

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