Batman: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan, Andy Clarke, Sandu Florea, FCO Plascencia, Richard Starkings, Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt, Greg Capullo, Bryan Hitch, Nathan Fairbairn
And now for something completely different. This story is about power. And not the kind of power that people have socially or economically, and not even the kind of power that metahumans possess and use. This is about power. A literal urban power grid, and how Batman uses them to his advantage. This is also the issue that tells the story of the girl we saw way back earlier in this title, Harper.
This girl, “Harper Row,” seems really familiar to me. I feel like I’m supposed to know her from somewhere. The name is just sticking out in my mind, and I can’t place it. I did some research, and the only significant occurrence of it is in a Supreme Court case, Harper & Row v. Nation Enterprises, having to do with a Fair Use issue back in 1985. So…not quite as related as I had hoped. I looked through information on the case, just to see if Snyder and Capullo were making a nod to something, but found nothing really substantial. Oh well.
So Harper and her younger, gay brother, Cullen, live on their own in the Gotham projects. The location on the page is given as, actually, “The Narrows.” I still don’t know how I feel about comics these days taking notes from the obviously separate movie universe. But, hey, what’s done is done. Harper is concerned about Cullen because he’s always getting beat up. This time, when the assault results in Cullen’s hair being cruelly cut off, she does something really supportive and awesome.
Due to certain, believable events in her life, Harper decides to work with the city’s electrical department, and often is down underground working on the power grid. She learns how to keep it working, and also stumbles upon how Batman utilizes it. It’s a great little story about her detective work on Batman and how it ends up saving the day, although the caped crusader would never admit it.
But, by far, the best moment in the book is when Batman comes to help Harper and Cullen. Even better are how the siblings react to the impending attack. Harper is the big sis, and she stands to defend Cullen, while he never raises his hands to attack. There’s a consistency to their character that I really like. I can’t help but think that if certain other writers were handling this story, they’d have Cullen suddenly grow balls and start swinging at his attackers. Unrealistic, that.
There are two main pencillers on this issue, which does present a huge stylistic problem. I really dug Cloonan’s art, which we start out with. She does a great job of showing us the siblings, and how alike and how different they are. Clarke’s art looks much “rougher” than Cloonan’s, and that’s probably because of the fine lines he uses on their faces and all that. He also brings a more exaggerated feel to the characters and their features. In the end, I preferred Cloonan. But great work by the entire art team.
Batman #12, the verdict: I liked that the last issue of the first year of Batman was about these other, minor characters. It made the ish feel like a bonus, in a way. Like, “here, we’ve done all this seriousness with the Court of Owls, now have this little fun story that explains a bit about this character we introduced before.” It also didn’t come off as some half-assed attempt at providing lame content just because they ran out of Court story. No, this is a full story that links up with Batman issue #1, even. In fact, I’m going back to that issue to see if I can spot Harper at the banquet at the end. I hope Harper and Cullen come back as recurring characters next year, because they’re definitely interesting, and they’ve definitely proved useful (at least Harper has) in Batman’s war. It would be interesting to see her fully included into Batman, Inc., or something.
(Photo Source: Talking Comic Books)