BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #33
What did the
FORWARD: Overall I got into Confidential not so much a Batman fanatic but more of a casual spectator of the dark knight, knowing very little of the history and less about the political status quo of Gotham. But all of that didn't matter in this issue of the Confidential Series as Milligan weaves an almost elseworld's tale of what if. At first glance it seemed like an anthological series with arcs beginning with "what if" that would have lost its luster in the first three pages. But as you can see below I was blown away by how wrong I was.).
Cover: Someone needs to pat Jock on the back. Bluntly I find that this cover is splendid and does the previous covers justice. The white painted background decorated in blurry bats create a blue hue that give off the feeling that you're looking at a saturated dream. The contrast between the white snowy background actually make dark Moscow cathedral standout. But even more importantly it makes the dark knight stand out. Clearly the opposite of how DC usually portrays the dark knight on covers. The major negative I find is the tendancy the comic has of being smearable when stacked with other books, more on that below in "Execution".
Colors: Vibrant and stagnant, it's almost like the colors used in the new Batman & Robin series, in fact I wouldn't be surprised if it was. Very impressive. No complaints save for the constant use of black backgrounds. But that could be a taste thing obviously.
(Concepts, Continuity & Plot-holes?)
Concepts: This Arc's concepts entertain me to no end. Mention the Bruce Wayne Incarnation of Batman being unsure about himself in ANY solicit and Iâ€™m sold (to some extent). As he hunts for answers in this new environment the Caped Crusader finds himself "a fish out of water" as less-than-ideal social interactions causes himself to question his approach to crime fighting. Whether it's the fact that children fear him or even unwanted headbudding with Moscow's finest Bruce finds no allies in this Arc which synchronizes well with the white anti-camouflage cover. Batman cannot shadow himself from scorn, which plays well with his uncertainty.
Also I'd like to query: Is this happening in the 80s during Regan's reign and the Cold War? Let me know if anyone has any insight on that, I'm quite interested.
Continuity & Plot-holes: I didn't really find any necessarily until the very end of the issue on the 1st and 2nd panels of the issue. Where is batman going? Unless I'm missing something or it was mentioned in the previous issue I don't see where they mention him heading in that tunnel. Those guys he was waterboarding (for lack of a better word) didn't really tell him anything on panel, maybe off panel? Oh well we'll find out next issue I suppose. =|
(Pencils, Panel Art, & Lettering)
Pencils: Fantastic. Andy Clarke can definitely draw. It may not be my preferred style of the Dustin Nguyen Batman (the best drawn Batman ever) but certainly scratches that itch for me as I see this very familiar incarnation of Batman slowly begin to fall from extreme confidence and assuredness into uncertainty and self-doubt. Even all nitpicks aside, the art in this issue had me following Batman through this unfamiliar environment with popcorn in hand (okay maybe not popcorn). I'm almost glad I came in expecting less because I was pleasantly surprised and you will too if you purchase this issue.
Panel Art: At first there didn't seem to be a pattern, and then I noticed the uniform use of 6 squared even panels just like the Watchmen. For the most part it divides up differently at points but returns to the 6 panel pattern again when no specific action is occurring. This isn't done for any specific reason or purpose aside the sake of convenience. But that's something I can respect since making comics is no easy task.
Lettering: As said multiple times before on the podcast: letters get a lot of shit for missing minutia in a comic book but don't get nearly praised enough for when they do get it right and even blow your expectations out of the water. That's why I have got to hand it to Sal Cidriano for his consistent pace at keeping tabs of all those pesky "<" and ">", because professional or not, a 22 page story arch where tons of conversation bubbles start with "<" and end with ">" can become cumbersome to the point where enthusiasm is scarce. So bravo Sal and keep it up.
(Production, Viewability/Inks, and other Minutia)
Production: Unless I'm not terribly mistaken (correct me if I'm wrong) I believe I mentioned smears earlier, which means a lot of people may second guess purchasing this comic from just any comic rack. Because of the cover art and the inks used I suggest getting your comic from as far front as possible. Now I know what you're probably thinking (or at least those of you compulsive about getting "the good copy") "B-b-but the finger prints," Trust me finger prints are the least of your worries, I mean unless you prioritize finger prints over batsmears (heh, smears). I would get the 3rd copy or so from the front since that one is least likely to have both. Just a suggestion.
Inks & Panel Viewability: Over the course of #33 there are some panels inks exist where they clearly shouldn't. The final panel is an extreme case of this where both the pencils are overshadowed by the inks in places of specific importance, like the neck. If it wasn't for the decent coloring I would have never figured out this guy was buff. No amount of good penciling can solve this problem when inks are just tossed in willy nilly. This isn't 1980s Savage Namor here. This is the confidential book surviving cancellation. Just a thought for the future folks.
Minutia: I wanted to make mention of this in the Lettering grading area but didn't want to taint the taste of praise I had given Sal, so I placed this minute mistake here. The caption to the final page (*sigh* I know I know I can't let it go) could have been much better off on the left panel as opposed to the right. How am I supposed to know that this guy is big and musclely with all that bloody ink? Is it so much to ask to place it on the left side? Just to avoid further confusion? Oh well. I suppose it doesn't matter so much at this point since most of us are nit picky enough to figure it out for ourselves.
NOTE* I refer to pages instead of scenes (minus the ads).
Art: 5 - Excellent