Batman 12 – Help for Heroes

Scott Snyder has excelled with this Batman book. He had a worthy reputation from his work on American Vampire and Gates of Gotham, which was fantastic. His Court of Owls arc just finished  was the best story of the DC 52s. He presents this one shot issue about a bullied gay brother and his tough bright older sister. This feels like a long issue but it is because there is a lot of depth introduced to Harper Row, the female protagonist. This does mean Batman is very much in the periphery. All comics focus on a hero but it is unique to portray the effect of the hero on the everyman and can be done phenomenally well, just look at Gotham Central.

The story is played out well and tells an interesting tale intertwining Harpers plight with poverty, her dislike of the magnanimous rich, dealing with a bullied brother and then becoming obsessed with the Bat. Her thoughts are portrayed in great detail but her interactions are realistic and well paced. Scott carves an interesting character without the need to tell us her characteristics but to allow them to be shown and drawn. Becky Cloonan is a new artist for me and has almost a cartoonish look to the facials of the characters, as their eyes are huge. However her facial expressions are good and show the emotional content of the conversations successfully matching the writing.

There is an artist and writer change towards two-thirds into the issue. I am not sure James Tynion IV has enough panels to make his mark but provides a good adjunct to Synder’s work. Andy Clarke draws in a very different style and Harper looks much more gothic in the last panels. The actions sequences are convincing and well drawn. I do feel that there is an obvious change in artist and prevent this good book comic being a brilliant one.

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