Jun 25, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 487: Batman and Robin #6, January 2010
I'm not a fan of Philip Tan's art, I'm afraid. This is not to say that he's not a good artist. He's certainly a far better artist than I'll ever be. But over the last three issues, I've found myself having to go back and re-read bits of the comics to try and figure out what was happening in each panel, and how one moves into the other. While the story, as I suggested yesterday, is taking a considered look at the grim Batman of the 1980s, Tan's art seems to be calling back to the early 90s, and the rapid-fire and not always coherent art of the Image founders. Now, to be fair, a lot of this issue (which consists pretty much of one long fight sequence) takes place at night, so of course it's going to be dark. But that shouldn't necessarily make what's happening unclear, just a bit shadowed. I'm sure I've seen his art elsewhere, but I can't off the top of my head think of a particular example, and maybe it was just this comic. Certain artists and writers work well together, and certain artists and writers are better suited to particular types of stories. I'm not sure this story was suited to Tan's particular talents.
I'm glad to see the end of this story. I've been pretty effusive with my praise of this extended Batman run, but this story leaves me cold. While I can see the various stories as meditations on the history of the character, I'm inclined to think that these meditations work best when they are utilizing new elements, rather than retreading older ones from the very eras they're considering. The first story arc, looking to the bombasticness of 60s Batman, used characters resonant of that era, but not from that era. This arc, considering the darkness of 80s Batman, could have told the same story without resorting to the use of Jason Todd. There's a difference between retreading history and repeating it.
Tomorrow we'll start on the "Blackest Knight" arc, which features one of my absolute favourite creations from this era of the DCU, Kate Kane, the Batwoman. While Dick and Damian were featured in Batman and Robin, Kate was briefly given the starring role in Detective Comics, and it's a really beautiful run. I'm sure I'll get to it one of these days.