Friday, February 10, 2012

Paul's Picks! - Feb. 8, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And in celebration of this weekly, well, celebration, Paul is here to give you his favorite book of the week.

Batman and Robin #6 by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason

Hey guys! We're absolutely PUMPED here at AC about all the awesome things that are going on. Last night we wrapped up our third episode of the Ancillary Characters Podcast, which we should have up for you all in the next couple of days. The guys from Hideous Energy were on with us, and it was a blast.

Now on to business. There were some great books out this week (Demon Knights, anyone?), but there for me there was never really any question. I like to spread my pick of the week out a bit so that every book gets a chance at the spotlight. One book that I have yet to pick from the New 52 has been Batman and Robin. Not that the book hasn't been good, but I felt like it hadn't quite crossed over into incredible. But no more! In issue #6, these guys have absolutely hit their stride and given the readers something to be excited about.

A lot of the books I'm reading are putting together something huge (Swamp Thing, JLA). Others are creating stories and villains that will undoubtedly reverberate through the world of comics for years to come (Snyder's Batman, of course). When it comes to Batman and Robin however, I haven't been sure what it is that Tomasi and Gleason have been aiming for. At first I thought it was going to be one of those angsty books about Damian and how rebellious he is, with every issue just pushing him farther and father away from Bruce. After the events and issues 5 and now 6, it has become clear that these guys are looking for so much more than that. This is not a story about a bratty kid (which we've all seen before, right?). It's about a wounded relationship between a father and his son.

I would NOT wanna be on his bad side...
This is a boy who has never really had a father, and by the time he was finally getting used to his presence, he was seemingly killed in the events of Final Crisis. Damian finally settled in with Dick during the pages of Batman and Robin before the New 52, but this is really the first time we get a book that is solely focused on the two of them together. While the boy is undoubtedly glad to have his father return, he is now facing the difficulty of finding where he stands in all of this. Bruce is concerned with protecting the boy, possibly even more than he has with any of his previous Robins. He wants to hide him from the darkness that is trying to rise out of his past with Ducard, and Nobody isn't going to let it go.

This story is not about Batman. It's not even about Nobody, a new and dangerous villain. This story is about father and son, and the development of their relationship. This is a story that is 100% character driven, and I find myself entranced by it. (SPOILER ALERT!) The last page of this issue was one of the best I've seen. The desperation on Batman's face is almost tangible as he's forced to hear his son being tortured, racing to reach him. I had chills reading those final pages, watching it all unfold. This is an emotional tale that is connecting on levels much deeper than you're average "superhero comic."

When it comes to Gleason's work, I can't help but feel like he gets overlooked. Sure, we've seen his style around for a while, I became accustomed to his stuff on Green Lantern Corp. While that stuff did become a bit on the bland side for me, his work on Batman and Robin has been stellar. I sometimes take issue with the way artist portray the men behind the masks. For example, while David Finch's Batman looks bad to the bone, I just do not like his portrayal of Bruce Wayne. However, Gleason's Bruce looks like a  real man, not some doctored, cut model of one. I can feel his emotion, and his Batman is just as bad to boot. Props to you, sir.

For those of us that have adored and praised Morrison's run on B&R, perhaps it's been a little difficult to adjust to this new tale by Tomasi and Gleason. As for myself, by issue #6 I'm totally on board. This book has managed to make its own way amongst its peers, especially in a market with more than four books starring the Bat. Congratulations Tomasi, you've got our vote.

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