Jul 14, 2016

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 506: Batman: The Return, January 2011

http://www.comics.org/issue/787901/

With this epic piece of work, we'll take a brief break from the read-through of Morrison's run on the Bat. The contrast of Bruce as Batman with Dick as Batman is incredible, I have to say. And Bruce himself notes that Dick Grayson's version of Batman is far more likeable. There's also a remarkable contrast in how Bruce works with Damian. Over the last couple of issues, Damian has repeatedly asked what the ramifications of Bruce's return are for "Batman and Robin," obviously seeing that team as himself and Grayson. Damian is a closed off, reticent young man, so these little moments of sentiment, though masked in pomposity, are really lovely character notes. He likes working with Dick. This issue follows on directly from the last Morrison issue of Batman and Robin, giving us a glimpse of the foundations upon which Bruce is going to build the Incorporated brand. The sad part of this is that, partway through Morrison's story, DC dropped "The New 52" and, in the humble opinion of this blogger, fucked up their entire publishing line almost beyond redemption. We'll see how "Rebirth" does, I guess.

One thing I don't comment on very often is the actual material quality of the comics I read. Over the almost 70 years of comics history I have in the collection, the actual composition of the comics has undergone numerous changes in quality. This comic is an interesting one. The interior pages are as you'd expect, contemporary glossy pages, computer effects over traditional art. Pretty much a modern comic. But the cover is a little different. It's a heavier gauge of paper, to begin, though not quite cardstock. It's the finish on the cover that is interesting. Rather than a gloss, it's got a matte finish to it. The effect is nice, as there's no reflection from the shadow Batman is emerging from in the picture. When I teach my students to read poetry, I tell them that it's vital to remember that there's a title to many pieces, and this title helps us with our reading of the verse. This cover offers a similar function. Bruce, as Batman, emerges from a dense and true shadow, both literally and metaphorically. In contrast to the hyper-colourful covers of Batman and Robin, even the covers of the comics featuring the different versions of the characters give us subtle, or perhaps not so subtle, clues as to how the comic, and the character, will read.

So I think we'll take a week off. I've got some strange comics I want to read and blog about, and then we'll jump back into Batman, Incorporated, and see, as Bruce calls it, "the future of crime-fighting." Onward.

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