ďFranchise: Part 1: Supply Side EconomicsĒ
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Shane Davis (p), Rodney Ramos, Wayne Faucher, Lary Stucker (i)
I have not been happy with Batman lately. His character today is so far removed from the resilient crimefighter, worldís greatest detective, and master escape artist I grew up with in the 1970s that if it wasnít for the costume I wouldnít recognize him. Emotionally and intellectually heís become cold, distant, almost robotic. When the personality I so much admire surfaces, itís for a brief moment, a spoken line here, a thought of narration there, and then, poof, back to a Dark Knight deeply troubled and practically psychotic. Iím more worried about him than I am rooting for him.
Iím almost at a loss to explain why I enjoyed Batman #646 so much. Almost. Coming into the book I was automatically thinking on why I wouldnít like this issue, and then once I read it I immediately realized why I was so impressed with it: Winickís rendition of Batman is right on the mark. Batman doesnít even appear in over half the book, yet the Batman depicted is in every respect the Caped Crusader I loved reading in my teens. The man is crimefighting, escaping deathtraps, dealing with enormous threats to the safety of his beloved Gotham City, matching wits with over-the-top foes, and grappling with the return of someone from his past that should be dead. All the while, as heís battling the criminal elements surrounding him, I know his deductive reasoning is in overdrive. How can this person be alive? If he isnít, who has taken his place? Whatís the big picture here? How do I confront it, rationalize it, and resolve it?
I loved the artwork. It isnít stylized or anatomically exaggerated or vague in dark spots. It reminded me a little of Neal Adams in some panels, Jim Lee in others. The art matched the swift pacing of the story. There isnít a dull moment in this book.
While Batman #646 is the beginning of a new story arc, it still carries over major plot threads from previous issues while directly tying into the aftermath of Villains United. No problem with me. The Batman has his hands full, and the action and drama has been turned up to a fevered pitch. This Batman, as far as Iím concerned, is in terrific shape, both mentally and physically. I just know heís going to emerge triumphant. And thatís the Batman Iím happy with.
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