4.02.2007

Graphic Novel Of The Month

Batman: Snow (DC): Amid all the flurry of various ongoing Batman titles and assorted special projects, it's actually very difficult to find something of quality. This collection penned by Dan Curtis Johnson and JH Williams III, penciled by indy fave Seth Fisher, is one of those rare gems that's beautiful to behold and has some originality to the story.

Fisher's meticulously detailed panels are a joy to wander through. Sure, there's the delight of his uneven lines that add flair and style to people we've come to expect. Just look at the odd wisps of hair on Alfred's head or the creases in Batman's cowl. The real treat though, is how thorough and finished his panels are. Look at the strange things that can be found laying on the sidewalk in a city shot. Look at how the Batcave looks a mess and unfinished. Fisher's worlds are not perfect, they're perfectly lived in, and far more realistic in that sense than a lot of the so called "hot" artists working today. The hot artist's detail typically lies in perfection of the human form. Fisher's detail, and strength, lies in the perfection of the representation of the total world he's creating.

On the writing front, you could easily dismiss this as just another re-telling of Mr. Freeze's origin. Superficially, it is that, and if you stopped there you'd be missing something really unique. What DC Johnson and JH Williams show is here is a Batman early in his career. One who is still developing a relationship with James Gordon. One who is still relying on a pre-Two Face Harvey Dent. And yes, while interesting, we have seen those ideas explored before. What we haven't seen is Batman assembling a team of forensics, psychology, technology, tactical, and entry experts to aid him in his mission. Not Robin. Not Batgirl. And long before any of the other "assistants" we've come to expect in the Batman mythos. These are "regular" people that Bats teams together to extend his capabilities. It's such an intuitive, deceptively simple idea to explore. But, it's worthwhile and the ramifications and realizations around that take center stage here.

The initial success and ultimate fallout of that concept, coupled with Fisher's wonderful art style, are what sets this work apart from many Batman works, distinguishing itself as one of the best, and probably most overlooked, Batman stories in recent memory. Grade A-.

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