Thursday, January 19, 2012

DC New 52 Review: Batman #1-5

Batman #1-5
Written by Scott Snyder
Pencils by Greg Capullo

Inks by Jonathan Glapion
Cover Price: $2.99 Each

In a nutshell:
Scott Snyder tells a new classic Batman story an adds another iconic element to the Batman mythos.

Batman discovers a secret society called The Court of Owls that claims to have been in place since the beginning of Gotham City centuries ago. The Owls have their own parallels to the history of Bruce Wayne's family and they claim to be running Gotham from the shadows. It is unknown who is a member of the group but it is implied that there are many high up in society. Batman is resistant to the idea. When he was younger he was obsessed with his parents deaths and he refused to believe that it could have been a random act of violence and he started investigating (even as a boy) the existence of a secret society. The conclusion that he came up with as a boy was that the evidence showed that there wasn't a court of owls. And as an adult he seems to be having a hard time accepting that he could have been wrong about that, perhaps because the "unknown assassin" of his parents kept him from finding resolution which feeds his need to be Batman. Perhaps it is because he has obsessive control issues and has a need to be on top of everything, to not be wrong. Regardless, this case affects Batman in a very personal way.

Why did I pick it up?
I didn't pick this book up when it first came out. I didn't know who Scott Snyder was yet and I had a kind of prejudice against Greg Capullo because I associated him with Todd McFarlane's Spawn and some early issues of X-Force, none of which impressed me much. But the word of mouth at the comic shop praising this book got so loud I couldn't ignore it and by the time the third issue was released I was caught up.

The Good:

This is one of those Batman stories like Year One, Long Halloween, The Killing Joke, and Hush, that not only will be remembered as a classic Batman story, but is bound to add something iconic to the mythos that will stick. The Court of Owls' assassin, The Talon, is an intriguing villain (villains?) and very visually cool. The relationship between Bats and Owls offers interesting parallels to the story and the connection to the Wayne family history is also intriguing. I keep coming up with ideas of what the connection is, did the Court kill his parents? My favorite but most far fetched theory is that the court killed the original Bruce Wayne at birth and replaced him with the Bruce Wayne we know who is actually a sleeper "Talon" programmed to be an assassin for them. Regardless, this is a story that gets you wondering what's really going on here which really enjoying the ride. And after reading an issue, and prejudice I had about Greg Capullo's art is gone. Story and art, this story stands right up there with all the other classic iconic Batman stories.

The latest issue, #6, follows a disorientated Batman and the way the art is placed on the pages plays with the experience Batman is going through. It's touches like this that add something special to what is already a great book.

The Bad:
In the coming months DC will be raising the price of the book to $3.99. Now, they are adding a 10 page backup story so you're actually paying less for those ten additional pages than you did for the 20 pages of the main story at $2.99. But in general I'm not a big fan of backup stories. They're generally disposable and I hate the idea of paying extra for them. That said, Snyder is writing the backup stories and they're said to relate to the main story so they might be more relevant to what's going on in the comic, but I'd still rather the full story be contained in the main story and the bigger issue I have with this is that an extra dollar per comic means I can only afford to buy less comics per month with a tighter budget than I had ten years ago.

Is it worth it?
Even with the upcoming price hike, this is one of those Batman stories you should be reading if you have any interest in the character at all. If you don't want to read it as single issues then I highly recommend buying the collected story when it's eventually released as a softcover or hardcover. Personally, this is one I wouldn't want to wait for. Recommended for comic collectors and for people who don't read comics but have an interest in the characters.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Diary of a Millionaire Bully


Multimillionaire Jeff Kinney, the creator of the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book series, suing the very small publisher Antarctic Press for copyright infringement for producing an obvious parody, "Diary of a Zombie Kid", is a perfect example of the greed of the rich run amok. We live in a country where millionaires and big business ask for less regulations of their practices, and yet they use the government to create a fence around their intellectual properties. "Diary of Wimpy Kid" has become a household name and in doing so it's going to get spoofed. Lots of companies are spoofed all the time. And it's unlikely that Jeff Kinney will win. But here is the strategy of Jeff Kinney and other parasites like him, the millionaire attacks the little guy, outspends the little guy to the degree that the little guy is seriously damaged just by fighting back threatens the little guy with the loss of money to the extent that it would bankrupt him. The cost of defending yourself is so much worse than giving in, that most won't fight these kinds of bullies back. And that's exactly what Jeff Kinney is, not a "wimpy kid", but a bully.

This is exactly what the term "parody" describes. I admit it's an imperfect parody as the art is much better in the parody (which may be what this is really about, Jeff Kinney feeling insecure and threatened by a better artist), but lets be honest here, this parody does nothing that damages Jeff Kinney or his intellectual property which has become way more successful than it deserves to be. This man got lucky and he's let his success go to his head. And because of his strong-arm tactics and greed he won't get one bloody dollar more from me or my kids.