Greg Capullo Batman (and digital comic reading)
"There are times when I have closed a Marvel comic, and then I've opened the bible and read the Book of Job, and I've thought: "Job, you really have nothing on the Marvel reader." - Andy Ihnatko.
Andy Ihnatko talks about DC Comics' big "52" reset in his inaugural episode of his new podcast Ihnatko's Almanac (recommended. Ihnatko is bright and funny, and talks fast but thinks twice as fast). So I decided to check out a couple more of the titles. (I bought a couple of titles last month but they didn't stick with me.) What I decided on was Batman and Superman, which were the two biggest superheroes when I was a kid in the sixties. Isn't it interesting how that really has not changed? There's something about a really iconic character which makes it stick, I guess. Everything about Batman and Superman screams "the yin and yang of superheroes". The dark avenger, and the shining power-hero.
So far I like Batman, it's written well by Scott Snyder, and drawn by Greg Capullo, who did a good job on Spawn many years ago, and it doing a great job now on Batman. It is clearly "comic booky" art, it doesn't try to be photo-realistic (a big mistake in my book) but yet it is advanced and dynamic, with a controlled complexity which I'm sure is not easy to achieve. (Many early Image artists for example drew complexly, but the result was usually messy, like much complex art tends to be.)
Here's a panel from issue one. Quite Frank Miller-inspired, I think (The Dark Knight Returns), but evolved and independent.
Ihnatko points out that the whole idea behind the "52" reset was to get new readers, and re-acquire the readers which have fell off the wagon years ago. I've been agin' it, thinking it stupid and reckless to just ditch 60 years of history, but... I must admit that it got me back for now. The regular titles had simply become so dragged down with supplots and history that a new reader had a very hard time getting into it, and for years I hadn't even tried.
It is not a "year zero" reset as it were, for example all three (or four, I can't keep up) young men who are or have been Robin in the past are still around. But they will apparently try to do it at a level where new readers won't just throw the book (or their iPad) into the fireplace in confused frustration. I hope they can keep it up, but I ain't holding my breath, knowing human nature and the nature of writers, publishers, and editors. Once they have new readers, they will probably try to keep them around by building up fresh layers of never-ending subplots (god, X-men, sigh) and history. We'll see.
... Re Batman (2011-), I really like the new logo too. That's also not an easy job, making something fresh with something with such a history.
Above, a really well designed page from issue two. I like that they have not ruined the overall look of the page with white text fields. It has long been a pet peeve of mine that text and speech ballons are almost never designed into a comic page, they usually just sh*t all over it.
It is funny, by the way: I never intended to stop buying and reading comics, and I'm not totally sure how it happened because until about... 2006? I had been to the comics shop every durn week for 25 years or so. But after that my stack on my bedstand was gathering dust. So after a while I put it into the top drawer instead. And three years later I finally realized: frig, I'm probably never gonna get around to reading these issues, lets put them in the stack in the closet.
If there are really good new comics in the future, the iPad may keep me around them again. Though like Ihnatko points out and like I've been saying: the screen on the iPad 1 and 2 is juuuust two small (and relatively low-res) to be really comfortable reading comics on. If you have the whole page on the screen, most comics are hard to read, both regarding the text and the art. What I want is a 12-inch iPad with twice the pixel pitch.
What I do, currently, by the way, is reading the comics with the iPad in landscape orientation, and then first read the top half of the page and then the bottom half. The auto-panel-navigation that they have seems clever at first, but then it starts to suck. In comics, the relationship between the panels is as important as the single panels. I don't know why, but it is. (Thanks to the book/comic Understanding Comics for this insight.)