Ghost in the Machine”
Writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV (co-writer, pp. 22-28)
Artists Becky Cloonan (pp. 1-21), Andy Clarke (pp. 22-28)
Inks Sandau Florea (pp. 8-11, 19-20)
Colors FCD Plascencia
Scott Snyder is kicking ass on Batman.
That’s really all you need to say. As we wrap up the first year of DC’s New 52, the stand out titles are pretty much the ones you would expect, but Snyder’s Batman run and it’s all encompassing “Court of the Owls” pseudo-event have been full throttle action and excitement (way better than what’s going on over in Detective Comics, in my opinion).
And so Snyder chooses to wrap up his first year with “Ghost in the Machine”, where we’re finally given some back story on Harper Row (you may remember her shocking Batman back to life a few months back in issue #7). We find out she works as an electrician and has a younger brother, Cullen, who is persecuted for being a homosexual. That is, until one night when Batman interjects and saves the two of them. Harper becomes fascinated with The Dark Knight, and the story follows her on her quest to repay Batman for saving their lives.
It is at it’s heart the perfect Batman tale, because it encompasses an idea which has produced some of the best Batman tales in history: Batman isn’t necessarily in the story all that much. He shows up for a few panels here and there, but this is firmly the story of how Harper came to meet him, and the effect Batman (and Bruce Wayne, for that matter) had on her life.
However, you’ll notice this doesn’t have a full on five star rating. That’s because there is one problem with this, and it’s the art. Or rather, the use of multiple artists. Becky Cloonan handles art chores for the first 21 pages, and Andy Clarke does page 22 onward. Both do fantastic jobs, and the art is gorgeous for the entire book…but the art styles the two use are drastically different, and the switch occurs right in the thick of a very important moment in the story. The change is so sudden and so drastic that you’re momentarily pulled out of the moment; a shame, since the past 22 pages had just sucked you in and were refusing to let you go up until that moment.
The art differences aren’t a dealbreaker, however. The story is still one with heart that sets up a fantastic new supporting character for the Batman mythos (something that has been utilized less and less over the past few years) and, most importantly, brings the Batman title back down to Earth after spending the past year tangled up in “Court of Owls”. Next month may be the Zero Issue, but if you’re looking to jump into Scott Snyder’s spectacular Batman run, there’s no better place than issue #12.