Tuesday, September 14, 2010

COMIC: Top of the Stack - Batman #703 (Review)

Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art by Cliff Richards
Cover by Tony Daniel

Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

A wide range of appealing books were available this week. Many big franchise titles had issues come out (New Avengers, Thor, Green Lantern, Invincible Iron Man) along with several critically acclaimed upstart titles (Batman and Robin, Batgirl, Thor: the Mighty Avenger) but it was an old reliable that surged to the top of the stack, Batman #703.

This issue is the start of "Bruce Wayne - The Road Home" Batman event that is kicked off by Red Robin writer Fabian Nicieza. The event will consist of eight self-contained but interconnected one-shots throughout the Bat Family books, including three written by Nicieza himself. Nicieza has done well with Red Robin since taking the reigns after Christopher Yost's first year and his prior experience to writing Dick Grayson in Nightwing shows in this issue.

The plot moves in two directions during the issue's story. The 'A' story deals with Batman and Robin trying to capture a thief who's escape skills remind Dick of a criminal known as the Getaway Genius that Batman and Robin dealt with back when he was Robin. The parallel between the encounters and the importance of family comes out strong in the pages, showing Dick mentor Damian much like Bruce did to Dick back in the day.

The 'B' story reignites the lingering plotline of Vicki Vale's quest to prove that she knows who the Bat Family is, and that Tim's dramatic staged shooting had not put her off the scent. My interest in Vicki Vale's increasing inclusion in Bat stories over the last few years has grown and knowing DC's vision of how comic relationships work will keep Catwoman from going back to a minor character in someone else's book, I can't wait to see Bruce and Vicki mix things up again.

Semi-regular Batman artist/writer Tony Daniel drew the cover which leaves the book with the appearance of the style fans have become accustomed to seeing with Batman over the last few years. The interiors by Cliff Richards are different (but not a bad thing) and with the coloring the style takes a middle ground somewhere between Daniel's art and Cliff Chiang's. At times the art almost takes a Greg Land direction in how lifelike the faces drawn are.

This looks to be a one time collaboration for this creative team on this book, the next issue brings back the return of Tony Daniel as writer and artist. I've not been that excited about the 'Return of Bruce Wayne' having dropped that mini-series halfway through it's run, but I must say if his return treats the supporting characters as well as they were handled in this issue then I might just have to admit that there is room for Bruce Wayne. I for one, hope that is true.

Check out Geek Plate's Tumblr for today's Batman themed picspam.

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