Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
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extended or repaired


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Sunday 28 April 2013 The Forest Road Reader, No 36

Reread both Batman : Year One and All Star Superman this week. I'd forgotten what a really good comics they both are. Year One rebuilds Gotham City as grimy and unpleasant setting, dark even in the daytime. All Star's Metropolis is a gleaming city that echoes Superman's lost Krypton. They both reach back to their central character's pulp roots - Batman's in detective thrillers where conflicted men walk rainy streets, Superman's in the science fantasy romances where people fly between planets as easily as they might cross the road. Although written years apart, the two comics mirror each other. Year One tells the first Batman story, All Star the last Superman story. Mazzuchelli's artwork on Year One is low key, weighty, expressive through heavy lines, tiny details and omission, while Quitely and Grant on All Star are clean and open, sitting on the very edge of 'cartoony'. Year One is resolutely downbeat but closes with a glimmer of hope, All Star is shiningly optimistic even through its emotional finale. Mythic stuff. I enjoyed them both hugely.

Neither of these books are 'entry level' comics. You need to be pretty familiar with the central character of either story to fully appreciate what it is that's being done with them. A bit of schooling in McCloudian comics theory helps too. You need to know the grammar of comics to get the most from them. Not too much, as they're both pretty immaculately constructed, but I imagine they'd push a comics novice pretty hard.

For me, both stories had one little jarring moment, a little mote of dust, and that what was when Year One mentioned Superman and, similarly, in All Star when Superman mentions Batman by name. It was a dischordant note - out of time and out of the rhythm with the rest of the story.

Keep well, chums.


Tagged comics, and batman


Jez Higgins

Freelance software generalist
software created
extended or repaired

Older posts are available in the archive or through tags.

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My code on GitHub

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About