I really never was a Batman guy. I grew up in the 90’s, and there were two types of comics fans- people who dug the grim and gritty and those who didn’t. Usually the former were fans of Batman, and the latter often struggled with the character.
It’s not that I didn’t like the Bat-family. At different points I subscribed to Robin, Nightwing, Bird of Prey and Batgirl- sometimes all at once. But I couldn’t overcome my frustrations with the Dark Knight himself. At different times I felt he was too dark, too gritty, overexposed, and even too trendy. I stuck with my favorites- Superman, The Flash, Spider-Man and X-Men.
It wasn’t until the New 52 that I started to enjoy the character of Batman more and more. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run created a Gotham and Dark Knight that I actually cared about for the first time. Tom King and Mikel Janin created a Bruce Wayne that I gave a damn about. But James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez finally created an overall series that I felt like I couldn’t miss.
I can’t even put my finger on why at the moment. Maybe a few months or a year down the line I’ll revisit it and figure it out. It was really the story though that made Batman click for me, that finally made Bruce Wayne feel more like a person than the Bat-God of Morrison and Snyder. It’s a Batman that I get, even if I can’t relate.
Now of course, it wasn’t perfect. Prior to Future State, the series was interesting and uneven, not really finding its sea legs until most of the way through Joker War. Since that mini-event though, it’s been almost entirely at a high, thanks to Tynion’s script, Jimenez’s superb line work, some of DC’s best current color work from Tomeu Morey, and consistently great letter work from Clayton Cowles (there’s a reason he’s always the guy on the top books in the industry it seems). Even the elements I didn’t like, such as new character Ghost-Maker, were at least well-constructed.
With Batman #117, one of my favorite comics runs in recent memory, and one of DC’s best books comes to an end. While I enjoyed Fear State quite a bit more than its predecessor Joker War, it did suffer a bit from similar problems. There was too much going on, some of the elements didn’t get time to breathe, so on. It did feel entirely like it was its own thing though, not that half of it was dictated to the writer, or at least heavily edited.
I’ll always appreciate this run for making me realize that, hey, maybe I actually do like Batman. Maybe it’s worth going back and trying to check out some of the more well-regarded runs and individual stories (which is why my Classic Comics Cavalcade column has had just a couple more Batman stories than anything else). Maybe I should stick with Batman.
Tynion gets a lot of the credit for that, Jimenez and Morey too. Even if this issue ended a bit abruptly, and some of the plot points felt a bit rushed… It was at least trying to do something a bit different and tell a grand story to end this run. There’s a part of me that will always hope that Tynion comes back, and that he had a few more Batman stories in him that he gets a chance to tell.
Only time will tell with that. In the meantime, I’m going to go back over the holidays and re-read this run. It deserves it. It’s just generally good comics, and it also shows the evolution of a good writer into one of the best writers in the industry today- if not the best, and an art team that was already great, but absolutely leveled up.
Thanks James, Jorge, Tomeu and Clayton. Can’t wait to see what’s next.
Batman #117 is available now from DC Comics.
Another era of Batman comes to an end with an issue that’s a bit uneven. Despite that, I’ll always hold in high regard as the run that made me realize that, hey, I actually like Batman.