I've save you all the lecture but I've made the point in the past that there are very few comics which allow themselves to be fun anymore. That is to say, there are very few comics that allow themselves to be comics with all that entails, no matter how ridiculous. Give us talking gorillas! Bring me more good-natured ribbing between colleagues. Show us something with some imagination and a sense of humor!
The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League was fun. Dan Slott's She-Hulk was fun. Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman was fun. Power Girl is fun. Pretty much anything by Gail Simone is fun. It's a bit hard for me to describe that elusive quality in words and your mileage may vary... but those are some books which I feel have that common factor. So why am I bringing this up in a review of a Kevin Smith comic when everyone knows that Smith's work is a loose collection of dick and fart jokes built around the exploitation of women?
Because Kevin Smith has done the impossible or, at the very least, the blasphemous. Blasphemous at least to the vast majority of Batman fans who like their Dark Knight extra dark with a side order of angst.
He has written a story where Tim Drake is allowed to smile and crack wise like a real teenage boy.
He has written the first story I can recall since the days of Steve Englehart when Bruce was allowed to pursue a love interest and was depicted as actually WANTING a life outside of being Batman.
And gods help us - he's actually done a story where Aquaman is presented as a likeable smartass.
On one level, I know that this totally breaks the status quo of several years. Tim Drake is supposed to be a moody, troubled young man, totally obsessed with his own quest for heroism in the face of both his parents dying and the death of his best friends. Batman is a chaste samurai with no use for the pleasures of the flesh. And I'm sure that there are any number of Peter David fanboys who will emerge from their Hobbit holes to remind me that the only true Aquaman stories are those in which he is the proud warrior king of Atlantis with a hook-hand and a beard.
Well, you know what? The status quo stinks. And I like Smith's vision of these characters a lot more than I've liked anything else done with them in recent memory.
I just hope that this isn't the build up to a Fridging for Silver St. Cloud and an uping of the angsty ante for Bruce. Because that would lower what has thus far been a very original and wonderful mini-series into Yet Another Batman story. I'm certain that Bruce will wind up alone again (naturally) at the end of this tale... but is it wrong that I like seeing one of my favorite boyhood heroes be happy, if only for a little while?