Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bat-Quest Prologue: "52"

Now, Batman has never been one of my favorite superheroes. I always thought he was too dark, too lonely, and too paranoid about other heroes. On the other hand, I have always liked the work of comic book writer    Grant Morrison. I much enjoyed his work on X-Men, I loved his work relaunching the Justice League in JLA, and was awed by the ambition of his poetic interpretation of Superman, in All Star Superman. I also knew that he had written a run on Batman that was considered one of the best of all time. 

I thought that maybe Grant Morrison could get me to like Batman a little more, so I read some of his Batman run, and was confused out of my wits. Every story was impenetrably dense with esoteric concepts, and non-linear story telling. Some parts were sheer genius, while others were turgid and incomprehensible. It was then I realized I was reading them OUT OF ORDER. So, I have committed myself now to reading his entire run on Batman, plus supplementary material IN ORDER so I can finally "get it", and will document it in a review series called "Bat-Quest".

The first story I started with was a collaboration series Morrison did with three other writers: Greg Rucka, a writer known for more down to Earth storylines, Mark Waid, an elder statesman in the comics world, and Geoff Johns, a hot shot writer with a knack for handling out of control plots. It chronicles several different story lines in the universe of the  DC comics company's superheroes, but here's the trick: not only does every issue span just one week in  a year, but after the events of another DC mega-event called Infinite Crisis, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are out of commission temporarily. While it didn't have enough Batman to be a real entry in the series, it did have a lot of elements that would tie in to Morrison's Batman stories later, so I made it a prologue. I loved how each writer balanced each other out. Each of their conflicting styles fused perfectly into a moving, action packed, entertaining, and uplifting story. 

Morrison's "big idea" fueled writing wasn't as frustratingly confusing, and even added a sense of cosmic unpredictability. The most compelling plot was probably the Intergang-Renee Montoya-Question plot, which tied all the other threads together, but a close second was probably the gleefully camp Science Squad plot which redefined the old  "revenge of the nerds" cliche, but doesn't get the top spot because of Veronica Cale, a sad-sack who weighs down the otherwise joyously bombastic plot. The change of artwork in the middle of every issue was disorienting, and the Lex Luthor-Steel plot dragged, at times  but overall, it was amazingly well done. The multiverse-changing conclusion had me clapping and cheering, and even crying. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys the adventures of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, but wants to try something new, and as a sort of Morrison apertif.

Grade: A+

No comments:

Post a Comment