Thursday, August 16, 2012

Batman #12 - A Review

Some of the best Batman stories ever written barely have Batman in them at all. In many ways, Batman: Year One is more Jim Gordon's story than it is Bruce Wayne's. More than a few episodes of Batman: The Animated Series ("P.O.V.", "Legends of The Dark Knight" and "The Man Who Killed Batman" come to mind) were built around examining Batman's indirect influence rather than his actions. And my pick for the greatest Joker story ever - Going Sane - puts the focus firmly upon The Caped Cruasader's greatest foe and how he might react if he believed he'd successfully killed Batman.

Yes, a lot of great Batman stories barely feature Batman. And now we can put Batman #12 on that list.

The focus of this issue is firmly upon one Harper Row. A tomboy of indeterminate age (though we're informed she was an emancipated minor) and an electrical engineer for Gotham City, Harper has a knack for fixing things that are broken. But there are some things even the best handyperson can't fix and one of them is her brother Cullen's problems with the local gangs. Not one to back down from a fight, Harper and Cullen are saved by The Batman one fateful night. The experience leaves Harper obsessed with finding out more about Batman and - after a chance discovery - finding a way to repay him for saving her and Cullen.

As always, Scott Snyder's spins a stupendous story. Harper is an engaging protagonist and I hope this isn't the last that we see of her. But the real treat this time around is the work of guest-artist Becky Cloonan. One can look at this book and scarcely believe this was drawn by the same artist who also drew this week's Conan The Barbarian #7. Such is Cloonan's versatility as a creator. Even if you aren't a big Bat-fan, this issue is a must-read.

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