Sunday, April 29, 2012

Let's play catch up. Batman #8, and Swamp Thing #7

 Swamp Thing #7 
Written by Scott Snyder 
Art by Yanick Paquette and Nathan Fairburn 
Lettering by Travis Lanham 
Published by DC Comics 
Review by Lan Pitts 
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10

 Swamp Thing, you are amazing.

Having essentially been depowered by the Parliament of Trees, and Abigail Arcane captured by the force known as Sethe, Alec Holland has to face some hard choices and will confront even harder challenges that soon lie ahead. Scott Snyder and company are taking the first step into a world we haven't seen since Alan Moore's take on the character, and even elevates it from there.

 Right off the bat, we're diving into some deep territory here. Holland is being confronted by the Parliament and trialed on basically being too weak, from there he has to earn the right to be a force of nature again, but his reasons differ from that of the Parliament and makes him all that much more human. Snyder does not shy away from usual style of using heavy narration, especially here to demonstrate the transformation of becoming a swamp thing entails, but it's actually much less from his Batman work in the past and present. Here, it's mainly a conversation between Holland and the Trees about the good of man, and his weakness. It's pretty thought provoking, and really gives you an idea of who Holland/Swamp Thing is as a man, monster, and hero.

Without knowing much Swamp Thing mythos, everything is almost spelled out for you and potential new readers could jump right in. Now seriously, Yanick Paquette is a powerhouse here. Using vines and a quasi-nouveau floral pattern to break up the panel construction is still ingenious and gives you a sense of mysticism and sets it apart from the rest of DC's catalog right now. On top of that, you have a some brilliant, yet horrific, imagery of Swamp Thing's world that really echoes his horror roots. It's gory, but visually striking. Paquette is going near J.H. Williams III Detective Comics territory here. Nathan Fairburn is quickly becoming one of my favorite colorists in the field. His rich pallet saturates Paquette's lines, but still distinguishes itself from the characters and environment and doesn't take away from what Paquette does here, but shines it up to perfection. His use of reds and yellows here are just golden and really makes the greens stand out all the much more.

 If you've been wondering about getting into Swamp Thing but not exactly sure where to start, I say at the very least try here. The one flaw here is that it's all set up for the things to come, but you get the gist of what's going on and what's at stake. Snyder hasn't compromised the characters history, but condensed it to make it more tangible for readers unfamiliar with the Swampy universe. --------------------

Batman #8 
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV 
Art by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Rafael Albuquerque, Nathan Fairburn and FCO Plascencia 
Lettering by Richard Starkings and Patrick Brosseau 
Published by DC Comics Review by Lan Pitts 
'Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
 "Get the hell out of my house."
This is how you start a crossover event. Since the relaunch of Batman, he's come to terms with learning about a secret society that is hatching plans for complete domination. They have broken him mentally and left him physically drained. The Court of Owls. Leading up to this moment, Bruce Wayne went after them on their turf, but here, the Court comes a knockin' and Bruce and Alfred defend the manor and cave the best they can. Although they are outnumbered, they aren't unmatched. Starting right off the first few pages, Greg Capullo's panel structure breathes some cinematic air onto the pages. The multitude of shots used to cover Gotham City is beautiful right next to the stern silouette of Bruce standing alone in his parlor. An image I'm sure will be a classic, given time. Another good example of this is Bruce going into the cave and seeing that they are already in there.

Scott Snyder handles Batman as we haven't seen him in a long while: at wit's end and nearly defeated. But quick on his feet and hands, ready to take down the foes invading his home with some pretty good results. Snyder upped his dialog here and we really see Alfred and Bruce working as a team, at times showing the famed butler's more comedic side. There is a distinct difference in how Snyder writes Batman and Bruce Wayne this time around. There are mild echoes of Dick Grayson as Batman as Bruce takes down some attackers. Almost quipping away as he breaks a man's arm.

Of course, the back up having Snyder team up with his American Vampire collaborater, Rafael Albuquerque as well as newcomer James Tynion IV. It's weird to see Dave McCaig's colors layer his work, but Nathan Fairburn does great work here, still implementing a warmer pallet than FCO and it's interanesting to see the two worlds collide like that. Along with all of that, you see that sort of stranglehold the Court has Gotham in. Capullo and Glapion's art is brilliant here. Together, they do some great layouts and double-page spreads. This issue heavy on the action, and the art teams pulls no punches. Capullo's eye for detail is in top form here. The crooks and nannies of the cave and Bruce's furniture are highlighted, but doesn't come across as over bearing. Clapion's inks are consistent, and very sharp. There's a lot of energy going on in almost every page.

The back-up, "The Call", features Albuquerque's usual style of broad strokes, and heavy inks, really go hand in hand with the heaviness of the situation at large. We're treated to his great handle of facial expressions and some more double-page spreads. The last one of these setting the ground work for what's to come with the crossover for Night of the Owls. It's just old-fashioned cool with a modern polish. Bruce fighting off the Court in just his night robe for the majority of the issue, shows you the fortitude this man possess. The Batcave is supposed to be his impentrable fortress, but having the Court overwhelming Bruce, also displays their cunning and strength in numbers. With Snyder multitasking duties on books, you'd think he'd run thin eventually. Batman #8 proves that the best is yet to come.