Sunday, February 19, 2006

This Comic Was Good - Batman: Year 100 #1

Paul Pope is a stunning artist. Batman: Year 100 is a stunning work. It really is a shame that Frank Miller already did a story about Batman showing up in the future after not being around for awhile, and did it well, because for as amazing as Year 100 is, it always has to live with the thoughts of Dark Knight Returns flickering in the back of our minds, which is really a shame because Year 100 deserves to stand alone as a remarkable comic work. However, it may still be the best Batman comic SINCE Dark Knight Returns' follow-up (and the name inspiration for Year 100), Batman: Year One, so that's something going for it, no?

As a quick aside, to BE the "best Batman comic since Year One," exactly what would Pope's competition be? I don't want to appear to be damning with faint praise, as I highly enjoyed the comic book. It's better than Grant/Breyfogle, Dark Knight Srikes Again, Moench/Jones, Rucka's run, Brubaker's run, Milligan's run, Gotham by Gaslight and I think even Mad Love, but I could see someone making a good case for Mad Love being better...so maybe it's not better than Mad Love, but that's not an insult...am I missing anything of note?

I don't believe so. On, though, to the comic itself!

The basic gist of the comic, the "high concept," as it were, is as follows: It is the year 2039 (one hundred years since Batman was created, wink wink nudge nudge), and technology is so pervasive that nothing is unknown by the government...nothing except for this mysterious "Batman" who has sprung out of seemingly nothingness. Now, a federal agent is dead, and this "Batman" is wanted for the crime. James Gordon (you-know-who's grandson) tries to maintain order in Gotham and find the REAL killer, while the feds are just obsessed with finding this Batman, and why he can exist off the screen.

That's the great high concept that forms the basis of the comic, and it is going to be quite a thrill watching it all unfold over the next three issues.

Pope, along with coloring visionary Jose Villarrubia, create a staggering world of the future, where technology is everywhere, yet, rather than being a gleamy Epcot Center-esque look, Gotham City looks even grungier than ever. Blade Runner would be the closest comparison, but I think Pope does a great job of making it look even more realistic than that. Basically the worst case scenario of what our actual world will look like in thirty-three years.

And inside this dystopian future landscape, Pope populates the world with characters familiar to anyone who has ever read any of Pope's previous works. Characters of real flesh and blood, whose very "realness" leaps out from the pages. It is when Pope uses this take on the very UNreal Batman that the work really leaps from the pages. Imagine Batman's feats in the real world - that is what Pope achieves here, and it's every bit as amazing as you would think if you saw a man leap from one rooftop to another, or any one of the feats achieved in this issue.

It's awfully good fun watching the government freak out over the sheer impossibility of what is going on in the comic (especially the agent who takes a bathroom break to compose himself - classic). At the same time, Pope introduces new characters who we will learn more about in the future, and rightfully so, as they are intriguing. Like the mother and daughter who care for Batman and the top agent sent to track him down.

Year 100 is impressive.

You should give it a try.

Read More

35 Comments:

Blogger Trebbers said...

Glad to be hearing that the book is so good. Unfortunately, I waited till friday to pick it up at the LCS, only to find it sold out. My only consolation is that I'm still digesting the pile of THB stuff I ordered from Mars Import.

2/19/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger nadir said...

the best batman comics since DKR were some of the early issues of legends of the dark knight. primarily i am thinking faces, venom, etc... and i really liked the cult and son of the demon as well.

2/19/2006 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Good call, nadir!

I forgot about those LOTDKs!

You're right, a lot of those early LOTDKs were very good.

I think Year 100 is better, but those probably ARE its toughest competitors (except, I suppose, depending on your view of it, DKSA).

2/19/2006 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

And trebbers, the even worse news is that I hear that Year 100 is also currently sold out from the distributor, TOO!!

Which is a real shame.

2/19/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

Wasn't Batman: Year One published after Dark Knight? I've always liked it a little better, because hey, Mazzuchelli! And the plot moves so smoothly. Also, while it's one of my least favorite things from the GOD OF ALL COMICS oveure, I think Arkham Asylum should really be in the discussion, too. And if I say that, I have to include Gothic, because I liked it better as a story, even if McKean's art is worlds better than Janson's. Okay, fine, I'll take your word for it that this is the best Batman comic in 20 years. It's easier that way.

2/19/2006 04:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Batman: Year One is the best Batman comic since DKR, and maybe the best Batman comic ever.

L.

2/19/2006 04:52:00 PM  
Blogger Trebbers said...

Peter Milligan's "Dark Knight, Dark City" arc from Detective is pretty excellent. I also remember really being taken by Gotham by Gaslight and Red Rain at the time, but I don't know how they'd hold up now.

And a big BOOO for Y100 being sold out at the distributor.

2/19/2006 04:54:00 PM  
Anonymous C. Tynne said...

The only significant book I can think of that you missed is 'The Batman Adventures: Mad Love'...but that's more a Harley Quinn/Joker story than a Batman story.

2/19/2006 05:37:00 PM  
Anonymous some_bloke said...

Is it better than Batman Adventures?
All hail the mighty Mike Parobeck!

2/19/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

didn't killing joke came after dark night returns also?

2/19/2006 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Shit, I totally forgot that Year One came out AFTER Dark Knight.

So, yeah, Year One still wins.

But Year 100 is better than Killing Joke.

And Milligan's Batman is a run I should have mentioned. I think this is better than Milligan's Batman, but I should have mentioned his Batman.

2/19/2006 10:18:00 PM  
Blogger Brad Curran said...

"The only significant book I can think of that you missed is 'The Batman Adventures: Mad Love'...but that's more a Harley Quinn/Joker story than a Batman story."

Yes, but it has one of my favorite Batman lines ever. And it was part of a trade that won a hilariously underserved Eisner (especially since it won an Eisner as a one shot and was the best thing in the book) a few years ago over Palomar and some other great comics, which has to count for something.

2/20/2006 07:49:00 AM  
Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

The only Batman comic I've ever enjoyed more than this was Mad Love.

Great stuff.

2/20/2006 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

Upon all the praise (as best Batman since DKR or Y1), I picked this up today. As someone who actually doesn't particularly like Pope's art, I was reluctant.

It didn't live up to the hype. It COULD have been an interesting story, but I had no investment in it.

No names were used, nor was a date given anywhere I could find. I had no idea who Gordon was (grandson, nephew, son, whatever) and I was completely lost as to who anyone else was.

Basically, I had no clue what was going on. Which is a bad thing for a first issue.

There's plenty of fun action, which is good, but it isn't even established what the government that has all this power is or how it is in power (something that Moore made sure to address in V, which this seems in the vein of).

Unfortunately, Pope's characters all look alike to me. For example, blond chick one looked just like blond chick 2 and I couldn't tell the difference between the lead gov't guy and most other males. While the same issue exists in McGuinness books, it doesn't bother me as much because he's trying to do that to be cartoony. Pope just seems to be unable to draw a distinct male face (the characters here looke just like the ones in Solo to me also).

I guess my problems with this mainly aren't as a comic, but as a first issue. Readers just shouldn't be lost like this if you're trying to sell your book. At least Loeb makes it clear who's who with his captions (hated as they may be).
Of course, Stan Lee always said that every comic is someone's first...

Feel free to blast away.

2/21/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

Well, I ahven't read it yet, so I can't really say whether I agree with you or not.

But something to consider: If other people understood it all, does that mean it's still a bad first issue, or that YOU just couldn't figure it out?

2/21/2006 03:34:00 AM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

If you guys enjoyed year 100 you should check out that issue of Batman Chronicles he did set in WWII Germany. it was pretty good.

I forget the issue number

2/21/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger ninjawookie said...

just checked - it's issue 11 the elseworlds special!

happy hunting!

a toyline coming from this might possibly be ugly...but i'd be curious to see.

2/21/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

"But something to consider: If other people understood it all, does that mean it's still a bad first issue, or that YOU just couldn't figure it out?"

Oh come on! I can understand saying that I might not have caught everything, but you're trying to politely call me stupid and dismiss my opinion.

I'm a law school graduate, so don't tell me I can't read. What you said was simply rude.

The fact remains that no names were used except "Gordon" and one of the police guys.

And like I said, if a date was used, I couldn't find it. Not that it didn't exist.

A lot of this information would have to be found in solicits or somewhere else. It would be difficult for anyone without advance knowledge of this information to come out of the book feeling like they understood anything.

The fact that I don't like Pope's art is completely subjective, and I decided to read it because I heard it was a good story. But missing story elements are not necessarily subjective.

2/21/2006 11:39:00 AM  
Blogger Eliot Johnson said...

The back cover and inside covers clearly state that the book takes place in 2039. The news reports and the back cover's summary. That way, he doesn't have to force a mention of the year into the story.

It doesn't matter this Gordon's exact relation...just that he is related, which is obvious by name and even appearance.

I'm sure the important characters will have names. As of now, at least I feel, the characters appear distinctly enough to tell them apart. And it's not as if it's necessary for characters to have names to invest in them.

Regarding how this government got in power...it's not necessary for the story. At least, not at this point. Perhaps at will be, but right now, that's of no importance to the story.

2/21/2006 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous muldertp said...

Thanks, eliot, that's what I was missing.

I don't think the inside covers state the date clearly though...it seemed like those were supposed to be times, not dates, even knowing the actual date.

I stand firm by my statement that it's a poor way to write a comic. Your readers shouldn't have to rely on the back cover to get essential information as to what's going on in the story.

As far as the government goes, no it doesn't really matter how they got in power, but it matters to me what the government is, which could be explained easiest by how it got its power.

As well, it does seem to be a large part of the story how this government know who everyone is but not Batman.

2/21/2006 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Apodaca said...

I wasn't calling you stupid, actually. I was positing that you didn't pick up on all the information presented. Which, according to Eliot's post, you didn't.

No need to get so defensive. I've done it before. For example, I didn't catch the fact that Nick Fury got his arm punched off in the latest issue of The Ultimates until my third time reading it.

Touchy, touchy.

2/21/2006 07:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

I picked this up today and really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it a little more if Pope hadn't decided to do all the usual Batman stuff (Gordon is the cop, the one guy with the flower in his lapel is obviously headed to be the Joker, Batman has two assistants). But it was still a lot of fun.

2/25/2006 08:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that this is done, I'd say it's on the pantheon, right up there with DK1 and Year One. The action sequences are knockouts, and I like that not everything is tied up in a nice bow for the reader; there's still ambiguity.

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I stand firm by my statement that it's a poor way to write a comic. Your readers shouldn't have to rely on the back cover to get essential information as to what's going on in the story.

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