May 29, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 460: Batman #701, September 2010

I think this might actually be the first time I've read Batman in this order. The final image of the last issue, Nightwing hold the cape and cowl, segues into the "Battle for the Cowl" crossover (which, I'll admit, I was thinking about reading after Final Crisis - we'll see), but my recollection of the last time I read through the series was that the next time we see Batman, it's in Final Crisis proper. This issue, however, picks up moments after the helicopter crash in the river, and the captioning continues Batman's entry in the Black Casebook.

That makes sense. The Casebook is for his strangest, most inexplicable cases, and the next one he faces is the assassination of a God. And while it may be solvable, it's not necessarily explicable, if you see my meaning. It's a myth. It happens because it happens.

Let me just take a moment to talk about Tony Daniel. I haven't mentioned him much over the last few weeks, except to take exception to his work early on. As I noted in my Final Crisis post yesterday, this issue came out almost 2 years after the last issue, and the very cool thing about that is being able to see the progression Daniel's art has made. He took over Batman after Morrison left, so he's been dealing with these characters on a full-time basis for a long time when issue 701 comes out. It shows. Now, I'm sure he was improving, as we all do, on a daily, weekly, monthly basis while working on the comics I am just now finishing up, but those gradual progressions are often hard to see. It's like watching a child grow up day by day, as compared to seeing a child at 4 and then at 18 and being able to actually see the difference. I also wonder if it has something to do with actually writing the comic as well, rather than being part of a team writing the comic. Getting inside a character's head from a narratological perspective must somehow influence one's visual characterization. The first shot of Bruce sinking beneath the waters in this issue is amazing, as are some of the lovely close-ups of his face. I came down hard on Mr. Daniel early on, and it might have been due to the tradition from which he emerges, but his work here is stellar.

The comic is also a nice prelude to Final Crisis, opening as it does with the caption "Days to Omega: 30." And, as I have with so many of these comics, I'm going to close with Batman's take on things. The skies turn red, and Superman calls: "Drop everything. We need you on this. Someone just killed a god." Batman's casebook notes respond: "Super-people. I've worked so hard to gain their respect, they sometimes forget that I'm flesh and blood. In Superman's world, everything is mythology." Bruce sells himself short, here. He is mythology. Perhaps that's why we love him so much.


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