Let’s start with some perspective: this was a huge week for comics. Marvel released no less than four relaunched #1 titles, including Brian Michael Bendis’s ALL NEW X-MEN. Image gave us SAGA #7 and WALKING DEAD #104 in the same week. Dark Horse let loose with VICTORIES #4, CREEP #3, and EX SANGUINE #2. Even IDW’s amazing glamatron adventure from planet psychadelic, THE ZAUCER OF ZILK, released its #2 (of 2) issue, and BOOM! Studios continued the awesome and snarky EXTERMINATION with a resounding #6.
This is a lot of material to choose from. And there is a lot of quality writing and art going on, here. On any other week I might focus exclusively on Image and Dark Horse and how they’re clobbering the hell out of the industry with excitement and innovation.
But then I read Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s BATMAN #14, and well… everything else fell away in the wake of its utter awesomeness.
That being said, before this occurred, I had the pleasure of reading several of the above comics, which absolutely deserve mention. In EXTERMINATION, Simon Spurrier’s witty dialogue between the “Science-making aristocratic anglobastard in a gas mask” and a brooding guy who looks a lot like Batman is so entirely hilarious and linguistically luscious that the book could be about nothing and I would still be reading it. Similarly, in X-MEN LEGACY #1, also written by Spurrier, it took me at least 10 pages to figure out what was actually going on. But this doesn’t mean I wasn’t entertained. I have a soft spot for weirdness, and I look forward to more.
Michael Avon Oeming’s THE VICTORIES is my favorite indie book at the moment. The main masked man, Faustus, looks like the Black Rabbit of Inle from WATERSHIP DOWN. He’s crazy and dangerous and alcoholic and awesome, as well as a victim of child abuse: something his nemesis, the Jackal, decides to use as leverage against him in a heartbreaking setup that includes adolescent boys beating the crap out of him and then taking a picture.
The best of the Marvel NOW! #1 issues was undoubtedly THOR #1, by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, an issue that spans three time periods and manages to be both epic and empathetic in the way THOR hasn’t been since… well, a long time. Aaron hasn’t tried to water the character down for movie fans or tepid sensibilities—this is a god who drinks his fill of booze and answers plaintive calls, in equal measure. The Thor I loved when I was twelve.
And though it is not rooted in the supernatural, Jay Faerber and Koray Kuranel’s POINT OF IMPACT #2 deserves a mention. It is not the stuff of monsters, but good, hard-boiled detective philangering that would suffer mightly from an attempted color palate, so thank the gods it remains in stark, perfect black and white. It feelts like old pulp. It runs out like prime time television.
But then… BATMAN #14. I’ve been reading Snyder and Capullo’s run since the first issue, admittedly, and I’ve been truly impressed with every new angle and artistic shadow.
But here’s the thing: I don’t care about Batman. I don’t care about Bruce Wayne. I don’t even worship the Christopher Nolan movies. What makes me care is this illustrious, terrifying series that began with the Court of Owls and is now venturing into the well-tread territory of the Joker and his obsession. Except that Snyder makes it all new.
See, if a truly great hero needs a truly great villain, then Batman must be the greatest hero in comics. This is horror seen through a magnifying glass: not messy or blood-spattered, but so closely experienced to make a terrifying amount of sense. You sense the Joker’s sick illogic in a way you wish you didn’t. He has elegance, a way with words, and a love for his adversary as generic monsters can never have. He twirls, bows, calls Batman his “darling”. He all but proclaims his love like some sick stalker in a slasher film. It’s a beautiful issue. A sick paradise.
If every book were this good every week, comics would be bigger than One Direction.