Eric: Alright, it’s time for some Comic POW!
Eric: So, for this week’s POW! I selected Batman #3, written by Scott Snyder with art by Greg Capullo. Basically, Batman is being hunted by some group associating themselves with the Owls of Gotham Lore. Last issue they tried to kill Bruce
Dan: Are owls scary now?
Eric: Well, according to Alfred, they hunt Bats, so perhaps they should be!
Dan: I guess bats are flying rodents…
Eric: So this book starts off with a crazy guy running through the streets yelling that someone’s after him. And you discover it’s one of Bruce’s ancestors. He falls into the sewers the book cuts to Batman interrogating someone in the subway tracks
Dan: It’s a kind of abrupt transition. I didn’t realize that we were seeing the crook’s eyes at first which is the point, I’m sure
Eric: Yeah, it’s almost as poetic with its imagery as it is with its storytelling in this book. The guy gets strangely poetic with Batman by channeling Mercutio
Dan: The crook?
Eric: Yeah, so sometime before the book cuts in, Batman has apparently asked this guy about the guys in the owl masks and the guy responds, “You say you are looking for a man in a dark costume, an enforcer with a mask to hide his face. I will tell you that tomorrow .. HEH HEH … There will be one at the morgue!” So he’s basically threatening Batman in the most roundabout way possible and it just made me think of the “worm’s meat” Mercutio line
Dan: Flashbacks to reading Romeo and Juliet in sixth grade
Eric: After that we get to see this weird Ukranian gang
Dan: Who all bite their thumbs at Batman
Eric: Well, they would, if their mouths weren’t covered in metal
Dan: Yeah, I know. I’m not being literal, you’ve just got me in a Shakespearean mood
Eric: You got me looking to see if Snyder or Capullo made the error of not including a way for them to get food into their masks but, no, they have holes there.
Dan: Could just be a short-lived career
Eric: Which is great because they symbolically wear them for a year to prove they won’t be snitches. We get to see a great example of how awesome and quick-thinking Batman is. He’s outnumbered, so he makes the next subway train a super-magnet and there go the metal-mouths
Dan: If you really want to reach, it’s this insistence on keeping secrets that is their downfall which you can contrast with Batman’s efforts to bring out the truth throughout the rest of the book
Eric: Haha, Nice one! I also loved that Snyder went through all that explanation for a gang we’ll probably never see again. You then see Bruce’s new awesome computer contact lens assess that the guy was telling the truth about not knowing about the Owl which means he was just provoking Batman before because he thought his gang could take out Batman. Otherwise why mess around with him? Just say you don’t know anything.
Dan: Not a good life decision
Eric: The next few pages are Bruce and Alfred talking about Owls and Bats and the death we saw at the beginning of the book. Capullo shows how well he can work with Snyder’s sometimes very wordy scripts by altering the “camera” angle all over the Batcave – at once point it ends up inside the cowl
Dan: It is nice to see him try and mix it up with the creative cowl panels
Eric: Yeah, while reading the book, you mentioned you really liked the artwork. As with any good detective story, a lot of what seems like exposition here proves to provide clues to Batman later as he starts connecting the dots. It’s funny because it almost feels like Snyder is still writing Detective Comics – although there’s no reason why Batman shouldn’t be doing detective work in all his books
Dan: As someone who’s never read a Batman book before today, I don’t really understand why that’s different between books, but I like this characterization
Eric: Batman then goes, as Bruce, to visit the guy who he is going to support for Mayor. Again it looks like Snyder is just providing some exposition to make the scene seem more realistic, but in addition to confirming that someone is out there acting as if the Council of Owls exists, he gives Batman the last clue he needs to solve the mystery. Batman then goes into his little spiel about how if you don’t have a thirteenth floor in a building, the 14th floor is the 13th floor unless you make a small, non-accessible floor between 12 and 14. I don’t have any idea if that’s true in buildings that don’t have a 13th floor, but it makes so much sense, I’d buy it
Dan: Sure, why not. Seems plausible enough. Plus it emphasizes the way that the Owls are secretly integrated between the layers of society
Eric: Oh, that’s a GREAT metaphor that I didn’t pick up on. When he goes to check one of these, he indeed finds out that they’re there in the 13th floor of all the Wayne buildings. At this point, the issue almost went from a noir feeling to a thriller/suspense story especially with how creepy the idea of these guys being everywhere is! It also proves that Alan Wayne wasn’t actually crazy when he said the owls were in his homes
Eric: And while he goes from building to building discovering these Owl nests, there are some artistic panel/gutter combinations that suggest maybe an owl has him under surveillance
Dan: It’s definitely got a big brother feeling to it
Eric: In one of the nests he sets off a tripwire and blows up, which was my least favorite part of the issue, because it’s such a dumb false ending – we KNOW Batman isn’t dead 3 issues into Batman
Dan: Nope. It’s the end of Batman. That’s it!
Eric: Yeah, especially since he just came back from the “dead” I don’t think so. I would have preferred the cliche of the surprised “look what I found” face. Ending aside, I think it’s a great issue. Not only is Capullo’s art great to look at, but the story is great. There’s almost nothing about this story that has to be Batman. It could almost be any noir book or movie and it would still rock.
Dan: I really dug the artistry there. It was a great art style and a well-drawn effort
Eric: Alright, let’s see what book you’ve selected!
Dan: I bet you’re wondering what it is! [ed: I can’t believe you let this awful pun fly without groaning]
Eric: Alright, set her up
Dan: The central conflict of Wonder Woman is one that any mythology fan would be familiar with. Zeus has slept with (and impregnated) a human girl and the jealous Hera is trying to kill her. Hermes is trying to keep her safe and Diana takes them both to the home of the Amazons, Paradise Island. Strife (Eris) shows up and tricks the Amazons into attacking each other before dropping the bombshell that Diana is not born of clay, she’s the daughter of Zeus!
Eric: Whoa! Yeah, I was wondering what that clay stuff was about
Dan: So to emphasize that revelation, the cover of our book features a shattered clay statue of Diana with snakes (commonly associated with lies/deceit) crawling around the shattered head
Eric: Ah, I figured out the clay after reading through the book, but not the snakes
Dan: It’s just another bit of western religious imagery
Eric: Any insight as to why Eris is purple?
Dan: It’s just part of her otherworldly depiction. She is, after all, a goddess
Eric: So, when the issue starts, the women are blaming Diana for their problems – what happened before?
Dan: This issue mostly deals with the fallout of the discord she (Strife) so freely sews wherever she goes. Like I said earlier, Eris caused the Amazons to think that their fellow Amazons were enemies, so they killed each other. The other Amazons are super fed up with Diana because wherever she goes, trouble seems to follow. First she brought a man, Hermes, and then this trouble hit Paradise Island. Couple that with her being the daughter of the queen and a particularly unique birth process (so they think) and you’ve got resentment. I mean, as far as they knew, she was the ultimate Amazon since she was not born of a male, yet she rejects living on Paradise Island
Eric: And who’s the modern looking girl?
Dan: The modern girl is Zola, the girl who slept with Zeus and is carrying Diana’s half-sibling.
Eric: Whoa! Zeus is everywhere
Dan: Hera knows about this one too, so she’s trying to kill her. That’s how Hermes was wounded before
Eric: I see, so is Strife there just to be mean? Why did she trick everyone?
Dan: Strife likes to cause her namesake. She’s just there to bug everyone and sew seeds of discord between the Amazons, Diana, and Queen Hippolyta
Eric: I see. So The Queen arrives and finally tells Diana that she is NOT of clay!
Dan: We also learn that Zeus and Hippolyta didn’t have the usual divine domination type relationship. They had an affair full of mutual trust and vulnerability. Unfortunately, as Diana learns this, the other Amazons are rebelling against the idea of Wonder Woman being next in command
Eric: And, I don’t know about the lore of paradise island, but I thought it was a great visual to have a crab rip off the other’s pincer as the rebel proclaims that “paradise is ruined.”
Dan: It’s certainly meant to be symbolic. Diana doesn’t take her Jerry Springer news well and decides that she’s going to leave Paradise Island for good
Eric: Yup. And proclaims that she is Wonder Woman
Dan: Which, I’m sorry, is kind of a goofy name. Too bad they’re bound to it at this point. It’s meant to be dramatic, but I thought it was kind of silly.
Eric: And kinda out of nowhere, I think. Funny how both of us were disappointed in the endings to our books
Dan: I mean, it’s a rejection of the name given to her by the Amazons and an embrace of the rest of the world’s title for her, but still
Eric: Oh, has the outside world already given her that title?
Dan: I’m pretty sure they have, since Zola recognized her as WW in issue #1
Eric: I see
Eric: Alright, time for battle!
Eric: So, what made you choose Wonder Woman?
Dan: You know, I just love a good Greek myth story and Wonder Woman’s got that in spades. It’s not a super complicated story, but it’s well done and I like Cliff Chiang’s art. The women aren’t all fashion models. There’s variety. Wonder Woman is curvy and strong-looking.
Eric: I definitely liked the art in this issue. It had a very unique feel to it
Dan: How about you? Why’d you love Batman?
Eric: Like I said before, it was a great story that seemed it could work with anyone as smart as Batman. It just felt like a good suspense/noir story that happened to have Batman as the main character. I love when characters figure stuff out – I loved Encyclopedia Brown as a kid. The art was great and I also love conspiracy theory stories
Dan: Is it really a good thing if your story only incidentally needs its hero?
Eric: Well, I think it shows they’re not relying on super hero gimmicks. I mean Batman is very Batman-y here, but it’s not a story that relies on silly Joker antics or anything. I think as a POW! submission, Wonder Woman is a little weak as a standalone issue. It has a lot of great emotion
and the art is great, but you need to know what happened before – not that that should disqualify it automatically
Dan: I don’t agree with you there at all. What’s there not to understand about anything in Wonder Woman #3 on its own?
Eric: Well, what it is that Diana does that has everyone so pissed they’re ready to revolt
Dan: They say it plenty in the book. She brought a man to the island and trouble follows her. Couple in the derisive nicknames (ok, the clay origins were in issue #2, but it’s also part of her conventional origin story)…
Eric: Yeah, that is true. But I felt like I needed to have seen what else she’s done that trouble always follows her
Dan: Honestly you’ve seen it all. Issue #2 was when she arrived at Paradise Island and Strife showed up in the last five pages to wreak a little havoc
Eric: Ah, I see
Dan: We’re not exactly presented with mountains of evidence since this is only issue #3.
Eric: I definitely enjoyed all the greek mythology references
Dan: Who wouldn’t? Then again, that was always my favorite part of English class
Eric: I think Wonder Woman definitely had better written emotion and drama
Dan: I will concede that Capullo’s art is slicker and more interesting than Chiang’s, but I wouldn’t say that the Owl story in Gotham is appreciably more interesting. It’s neat and well done, but there was nothing about it that wowed me. Which, to be fair, Wonder Woman didn’t wow me either, but I’m just saying it’s not quite as clear a victory as you’re implying it might be
Eric: Yeah, I agree that while it was very well written, it was almost generic conspiracy theory
which is REALLY, REALLY selling it short. They’re both very archetypal stories in different ways. I think I’m actually more swayed by the personal drama of Wonder Woman even though Batman is more my kind of story. Even though I think this will create the illusion of us trading off winners every week, it’s purely coincidence that I think your issue deserves the win
Dan: Just remember your probability, folks. Sometimes things happen like this. Also I hear you put a few Vegas bets on me winning this event with worldwide following
Eric: Haha, I wish!
Dan: Tell you what, I’ll bring it again next week so it looks like we’re not trading wins, but instead that I’m better
Eric: Haha, we’ll see!