Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Guilt, Only Pleasure

Of course the title's a lie. But you understand it's a lie, it's hopefully, hopefully, an oddity as a title around here and it'll get you to click.


My guilty pleasure these days is Batman. No, not the psychedelic Batman trip done by Grant Morrison and a rotating artist pool that kills it on a regular basis, not the HOLYSHITMAN ground level stakeouts and near misses of Scott Snyder and Jock on Detective Comics (see right), not the can't slow down aesthetic of Batman and Robin, which Paul Cornell and Scott McDaniel showed up on the last minute and kicked out a jam on, but Batman, currently written and drawn by Tony Daniel.

It is as subtle as a car crash. There are other ways in which it is a crash, Catwoman's breasts are roughly as large as her head (see below), there's one young woman tied up and used as bait, the aforementioned Selina Kyle has a protege who calls herself Catgirl that even includes the ears. Anyway, it feels like Hush (written by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee) and I mean that in the worst way.

Daniel's style is a kind of Jim Lee impersonation that's a little bit scratchier and a with more emphasis on pencil lines than the other people working for the company, artistically. Also, there's a pretty good sense of movement in his splash pages. The writing, as I've alluded to is...pretty basic and trope-y, even while trying to introduce new villains. The Riddler has a daughter named Enigma, whom he takes out for father-daughter hero whoopings, I guess, Catgirl is the daughter of the perpetually overshadowed Gotham organized crime boss, Falcone and wears a lot of pink.

Yes, pink notwithstanding, this sounds a lot like the secret origin of Helena Bertinelli, aka Huntress. Get this: There's a Chinese PI named I-Ching, who is protecting a stolen girl called Peacock. Siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh.

Hush, was, aesthetically, Batman's greatest hits. There's a fight with Superman, Clayface shows up as get this, a fake out, the Joker shoots somebody, Poison Ivy plays with men, Harley Quinn is dangerous and clumsy and would you believe that the Riddler has a brain-twister for Batman? Wow.

The phrase tour-de-force comes to mind. So does artistically bankrupt, now that I think about it. Anyway. Hush was drawn by Jim Lee and is now in a pencils only printing called Hush Unwrapped.

Tony Daniel's piece has basically the same problems, but updated. Look, there's Catwoman, helping out Batman, but now she's got a spunky female protege! (see right) Look, there's the Riddler surprising Batman, but this time it's with his daughter, who is energetic and naïve! Look! Here's an illustrator that looks like Jim Lee!

It's the same.

Whereas: Detective Comics introduces new villains, ones that act in ways the old ones didn't. Cornell's Batman and Robin throws a new villain for a twist: She's a presumed dead piece of Bruce's arm candy who returns and exploits Batman's blindspot. Morrison's Batman and Robin throws Darkseid at the heroes, in more forms than one, but that's only after they introduce the Circus of Strange, British themed villains and entirely recast the Joker.

Daniel's villains? Thiny disguised Fu Manchu or yellow peril analogues. See, uhhhh, below.

But Daniel's Batman is so big, so fucking dumb and so fucking hard to take seriously that I can't help but like it, in a way that's absolutely insulting. Batman looks jacked, punches dudes, gets punched occasionally and then jumps off a building. Toby will hate me for this, or at least chuckle, but Batman is the Jersey Shore of the Batman series of books. I know what's coming, it's almost guaranteed to be more ridiculous than plausible and in a medium where the "plausible", "ground level" Batman just found an Iron Man style suit of flying armor to take to the sky against the guy who just turned into an evil skin disease pterodactyl, that's a feat within itself.

Occasionally, Daniel has moments I like. One was that Catgirl *shudder* "couldn't read" the street signs from on the rooftop where she and Batman were perched, the implication being that Batman knew where they were without having to look at street signs.

Anyway. I don't need to read street signs to know where I am with Daniel.

With A Thousand Words To Say But One by Darkest Hour. Short version: Thrash metal with melody. Really. It doesn't suck. Promise.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.