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nu52: The Belfry

Brian Hibbs

Damn it, the NEW ones are already out? Better write fast, then!

Bats, and more bats below!

BATGIRL #1:  If there is one critical mistake that I believe the relaunch made, it is that some books fully rebooted, while others are trying to say that everything that happened, happened. I find this even odder in the face of the Didio interview where he asserts that Julie Schwartz told him continuity needs to reboot every decade. The bat-family has, certainly, had many changes in directions over the decades, but the one thing it never did was actually reboot.

So, for a hypothetical new reader (and while we’re getting a LOT of the “lapsed” coming back, I think there are vanishingly few truly new readers coming through), I think that BATGIRL #1 largely fails because it is absolutely predicated on a whole bunch of stuff that happened in the “old” DCU, and it spends a big chunk of its run time referencing “The Killing Joke”

While the IDEA of a superhero with (a narrow form of) Post-Traumatic Syndrome is pretty swell, I think it (you’re forgive the expression) cripples Barbara out of the gate in the “I like this character” sweepstakes. I don’t want to read about a character who flinches, y’know?

The funny thing is I largely enjoyed this comic, otherwise — it’s reasonably dense, and story is borne out of character, rather than the plothammer. It’s well written, and the art was just fine. But the whole time while reading it, I was thinking, “I’d rather be reading a just-post-origin story with a teenage Babs instead”.

(Its kind of like how, despite how much I love the new DAREDEVIL, “Shadowland” still “happening” kind of taints the entire character for me. I may suck, however)

So, yeah, I liked it as a read, as an “old” DC universe comic, but the fact that it isn’t a reboot really really turns me off. So: a completely unfair OK, to reflect my turmoil.


BATWING #1: For some of the same reasons, this one didn’t work for me either — there’s no “origin” here, there’s no explanation of why he looks like Batman, or any real comment from Batman whatsoever about the situation… I really had no idea what was going on. (yes, yes, “Batman, Inc.” — but how would a new reader know a thing about any of that?)

Then there’s the weird flashback structure, which left me really really confused about when the cliffhanger at the end happened — are we still in “six weeks ago” there? And, if so, then how is he superheroing there at the front of the book?

I also thought the art was really stiff and muddy.

In short, I did not care for this comic, although I thought the setting was an interesting change, and there’s certainly story possibility here for the character. For now, though, I’ll give this issue an AWFUL.


DETECTIVE COMICS #1: I’m confused when this takes place — is this “five years ago” like ACTION and JL was? It can’t be because it opens with narration about the Joker killing people for the last 6 years, but, then, why are the cops still shooting at Batman? No other (contemporary-set) DCnu hero is hunted by police, and, hell, in JLI the UN is at least considering Batman to lead the team! Except for that very first caption, I think the book reads like a “Year Two” Batman comic (Which I’m fine with, certainly)

That aside, I thought this was a professionally done Batman comic book. And it had what was a potentially interesting cliffhanger. However, I did feel like I was reading a distant echo of other Batman comics I’ve read before — all of those 16 panel laid out pages had a whole lot of Miller on them, for example. So, while I’m (just) willing to give this a GOOD, it’s a very very mild one.



What did YOU think?


12 Responses to “ nu52: The Belfry ”

  1. Batgirl had so many things wrong with it, the book deserves an AWFUL!

    For instance, even though Babs had illicit access to her dad’s police files (and as a result knew the bad guys would be wearing monster masks), they previously committed all their murders/crimes within the geographic area known as “Brisby” (to the extent the papers labelled them the “Brisby Killers”). Why then wasn’t she looking for them in Brisby? Why was she looking for them in Gotham? And why was she looking in everyone’s windows? Isn’t that mildly disconcerting that no one in Gotham has any privacy? And what are the odds that she spotted the “Brisby Killers” through one of the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of windows that must exist in Gotham as opposed to Brisby, where the killers committed their past murders? Did her dad’s police files tell her that they would strike next in Gotham instead of Brisby? Yeah, right.

    Why, when Babs failed to stop a bad guy from murdering someone (do to her PTSD), she would be accused of being called a murderer? By a cop no less, who presumably has some acquaintance with the criminal law? The very same cop who also did nothing to stop the murder? The very same cop who trained her gun on Batgirl despite the fact that the bad guy was still in the room training his gun on the cop?

    How can someone who has been crippled and in a wheelchair and unable to walk for three years be able to walk and do acrobatics when someone else similarly situated would have had muscular atrophy from disuse of her legs without lengthy rehabilitation and physical therapy? Was this the result of a miracle? Hallelujah! Maybe Benny Hinn was in town that week. (look it up)

    I can suspend disbelief for a comic book, but to suspend all rational thought about the way even a fictional world really works is asking too much from a reader. Gail Simone may be a good writer, but this is sloppy and lazy writing, tailor fitted to a editorial mandate. Alas, it will probably sell like hotcakes to the thoughtless masses.

  2. I loved BATWING and that’s coming from someone who hasn’t ready any of the Batman Inc. stuff and has only a vague understanding of what it meant. For me, the verisimilitude of seeing the Batman concept plopped down in the midst of the closest real world analog to Gotham City, a semi-failed African country, gave the proceedings an energy and relevance that so many comics try and fail to achieve.


  3. I always love when someone calls something awful in a big rant, and then ends by insulting everyone who disagrees with it. “The thoughtless masses”, indeed, how very thoughtful of you, Robert G.

  4. I was confused by the timing in BATWING as well, but I thought it was decent. Not as good as I want it to be, but I’ll stick around. I’m a fan of Ben Oliver also, but the lack of backgrounds is off-putting.

  5. I think we are all reading too much into Batgirl. We haven’t found out yet how she has been cured from being crippled other than it has been mentioned as a miracle. In a world where there are rings that can do anything, magic users, and people who travel backwards and forwards from the far flung future, and you have trouble believing that she can do acrobatics after being in a wheelchair for three years, what imaginary world are you reading???? It seems we are still wrapped up in what has gone before. The killing joke happened and it occured 3 years ago! That’s plausible. There’s no mention of her time as Oracle! No problems. I’m going to give Gail the benefit of the doubt until the story continues. Regardless, I’ve always like her writing, and she’s only disappointed me a number of times. This story does not disappoint, and it’s only the first part, but hey, that’s just my opinion.

  6. “It can’t be because it opens with narration about the Joker killing people for the last 6 years, but, then, why are the cops still shooting at Batman?”

    The mayor has turned on him, I believe.
    And I’m pretty sure it’s legal in the U.S for mayors to make people targets for the police to bring in ‘dead or alive’.
    At least that’s what comic books have taught me!
    (To me, it seems weird when police in comics/films shoot at anyone who is running away from them – Police in Australia still end up in court for shooting someone who was directly threatening their lives!)

  7. There’s the art likes thing – what I have seen of Batwing I thought that looked pretty decent, whereas Animal Man is scribbly mediocrity.

    As far as Batwing goes, better to have a garden variety comic that is amazingly actually set outside the USA than comic number 4,671,233 in yet another boring seen a billion times usual US city suspect.

  8. Hey, people, it’s just a fact that the “thoughtless masses” exist! I know because I am one. I once forgot Mother’s Day and on another occasion my Auntie’s birthday. The word “thoughtless” was definitely used on both occasions. Other words also, but, y’know, the kids are still up.

    Next time someone catches me staring in their windows I will tell them I am fighting crime. Hopefully this will mean I spend a lot less time down at the police station.

    Aren’t US mayors the awesomest! In the UK mayors are ex-bus drivers who cut the ribbon at the opening of new cake shops. Also, I’m pretty sure that if it came to court the police over here could actually prove that you were directly threatening their lives by running away. I guess a lawyer would argue that you were, after an admittedly lengthy period of time including the use of many modes of transport and the odd toilet break, intending to come up behind them. After being found guilty the mayor would then tear you to pieces with his bare hands. But only in America!

    No, I haven’t read any NuDCu yet but I didn’t want that to stop me wasting your time.

  9. Well, for our foreign friends, the rules aren’t that much different for the cops. It depends on the situation, but normally you can’t shoot someone who is running away from you. It’s sort of a cop-show trope, but not accurate to the US.

    However, you talk about how mayors can’t “order hits”? Well, living in the Metro Detroit area, I’ll tell you that you’d be surprised. We just had a mayor (Kwame Kilpatrick) who is honestly thought to have ordered a hit on someone, possibly even using police officers for the job. You can look it up, but you’d be surprised how much pull a corrupt mayor can have in a corrupt police department. So the Mayor of Gotham City wants to order an unofficial “hit” on Batman just does not seem that unlikely, especially in what’s supposed to be the most corrupt city in the US. To be honest, it’s not too difficult to think up a context under which you could justify shooting Batman, anyways.

  10. @Finn Sieveright. I agree that these are comic books and we all make allowances for all sorts of magical and physics-defying antics, such as people that can fly, rings that run on willpower, people who can shrink to the size of an atom, people who are dead and inhabit the bodies of other people, people who travel through time, etc. Those unreal things are at the very core of a great number of books. But the Batman family of books are supposed to be grounded in a more gritty reality. Sure, inexplicable and fanciful things often happen, but they are, for the most part, based on a street-level reality. I cannot suspend disbelief when what I am really being asked to do is ignore some plot defects and questionable scripting.

  11. @Robert G. But we don’t know how she was healed yet? Your making a lot of assumptions on what you don’t know, and based on your assumptions saying that aspect of the story was awful. At least wait until you find out how she was healed to make that statement.

    Based on street-level reality?! You must be reading different batman family books than me. Batman came back from the dead only a year ago (in the previous universe)and travelled through time. You have super villians that look like crocodiles, shoot ice beams, heal themselves in a lazarus pit, control plant life, etc etc. How nit picky do you want me to be? The batman universe is as far from a fictional reality as you can get, but hey, that’s why we read it.

    You didn’t enjoy the story? That’s your right. I suppose the reason I’ve bitten is because I’m always reading bad reviews based nitpicky readers who have only read one quarter of the whole story.

    @JohnK (UK). Keep up wasting my time, please!! I actually laughed out loud in my office at work. Excellent.

  12. Honestly Batgirl was possibly the worst Gail Simone writing I’ve ever read. It had its highlights and looked nice, but the ending was very dumb — and I hope it was just a poorly written cliffhanger, rather than something that will lead into an ongoing plot.

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