Friday, May 21, 2010
Friday comics talk
The topic this fine day: the Batman trade paperback entitled Bruce Wayne: Murderer? The book is available at comics shop and local bookstores for about twenty bucks.
This thick, involving compilation of the various installments in the Bruce Wayne: Murderer? event that stretched across the family of Batman comic books a few years back has much to recommend it, but has a few flies in the ointment, too. On the plus side, there are plenty of pages to keep you busy (more than 250), the various artists do a nice job, and the story is decent, delivering solid mainstream superhero melodrama, no more and no less.
Chief among the negatives, however, is a kind of cut-and-paste quality to the whole affair, as this book doesn't compile full comic books that furthered the plotline, but only the specific pages within the original comics that spotlighted the story. So, while you get the occasional full issue of Batman, Detective Comics, Robin, Nightwing, etc., in this collection, you more often get small snippets from those issues, amounting to five or six pages each, before we move onto- more often than not- another small snippet. Things aren't as choppy as they could have been, but I wasn't crazy about the whole editing process employed here.
Also lacking is any kind of set-up at the outset... you know, one of those two-page text prologues peppered with drawings of the various players that most trade paperbacks now include to orient the reader, instead of just throwing us into the proceedings cold. I eventually figured out who all the various obscure characters were (just how many sidekicks and former sidekicks has Batman accumulated over the years?), but that could have been taken care of with a few short paragraphs at the beginning.
Finally, after 250-plus pages, there's no resolution. The central murder mystery is still unsolved, and the fate of Bruce Wayne is still very much up in the air. To learn more on those fronts, you'll have to pick up the various Bruce Wayne: Fugitive trade paperbacks. Good news in that area: they're cheaper than this volume (though thinner).
So, there you have it. You get a decent story that shows us a few things that we haven't seen a million times before (chief among them, Bruce Wayne in prison fighting off thugs), polished art of various styles, and facinating supporting cast members (once you get to know them). Just be aware of the shortcomings- which are somewhat annoying but not dealbreakers- and you should enjoy this novel-length comic book epic well enough.