By Jay Krieger
Most people think of Batman as an unstoppable and cunning detective, having never faced a foe that, despite elaborated threats and melodramatic plots of destruction and chaos, could really conquer or hurt the Batman. Many comics’ enthusiasts, who’ve been reading Batman comics for years, know this isn’t the most accurate depiction. Several story arcs over the years have had Batman at his wit’s end and left readers in suspense, making them question if Batman would be the victor in some conflicts. However the last two Christopher Nolan “Batman” films have portrayed more mainstream stories that showed audiences that Batman and, more importantly, the ones he loves aren’t untouchable and certainly can wander into harm’s way.
Back in September of 2011, DC comics announced they were rebooting fifty-two comic series, some characters we knew, and some were new creations. The New 52 was DC’s attempt to rejuvenate a market that had been steadily declining in sales in recent years. Of the more popular series released, some were seeing three or four reprinting’s as issues were literally being torn from shelves. In addition to trying to breathe life into a stagnant and rather stale market, The New 52 gave new readers a starting point for series (as some series were well into the hundreds). Obviously, many would flock to their “comfort characters” such as Batman, Superman, and other premier staples of the DC universe but the New 52 also introduced some characters that possibly hadn’t been favorites of readers in the past. After a year of New 52 titles, we’ve seen some series be canceled and replaced with alternate ones, but the one title that has been delivering consistently kick-ass content for the entire run of the New 52, has been Batman.
Scott Snyder took the reigns as leader writer of The New 52 Batman series, being coupled with artist Greg Capullo, and the two have created the most memorable Batman arc in recent memory. Over the years readers have not only become familiar with Batman and those close to him but also to his nemeses. So when a new Batman series was announced many wondered, who would the Dark Knight face first? The joker? Two-Face? Mr. Freeze? To readers’ surprise, a new foe emerged from the under belly of Gotham. A secret society known as The Court of Owls, which had been living beneath the infrastructure of Gotham for hundreds of years, were sending their assassins known as Talons to kill those that the Court has decided to mark for death. This is a foe that has made Bruce question his knowledge of his beloved Gotham city as the Court of Owls prove to be not only a psychically powerful foe but also a psychological one This is an altercation that will forever change Bruce, and even though the Court of Owl’s story arc wrapped with issue 11, the reader can see a real change in Batman’s overall demeanor. He’s come to the realization that perhaps he doesn’t know “his” city as well as he thinks he does.
Snyder’s ability to tell a story cannot be overlooked here. For someone like myself who’s read several years’ worth of Batman comics, we are being treated to all-original tales instead of a retelling of past Batman adventures. The tone and grittiness of his writing is apparent from issue one. This isn’t your Adam West Batman. This is perhaps one of the darkest times in Batman’s history, and issue 13, the beginning of Death of the Family story arc, only reinforces this dark notion. Issue 13 is a perfect starting point for those just delving into The New 52, as Snyder has brought the Joker back after a yearlong absence from the DC universe. And, from the first interaction with the Joker its apparent that Snyder has big plans for the Jester of Gotham. While Snyder has proven time and time again that he can tell a story, his words are complimented by Capullos’s art direction. The shadows and color pallet he utilizes make every page of Batman gorgeous and help convey the text that appears on each page.
A number of people that enjoyed this year’s film releases of “The Avengers” and “The Dark Knight Rises” probably don’t read comics. When a story is told on screen, it’s considered ground breaking and original and people love it. But when I try and hand them a paperback graphic novel that consists of a couple hundred pages of art, all of a sudden it’s not something they’re interested in. Where do people think the stories and characters for these films come from? If we didn’t have comics there would be no ground work for these superhero films that everyone loves so much, and new writers like Scott Snyder are giving people a reason to delve into comics, by telling original and engaging new stories that deserve a large audience.