Saturday, July 10, 2010

Batman: Odyssey #1 (of 12)

The first time I saw Neal Adams' artwork credited was in 1969 on his first issue of X-Men (it was issue #56, I think).

He was following a short run on the title by Jim Steranko, and I remember thinking, "Why is Steranko pencilling under a different name?" (I eventually figured out that they were two different talented artists.)

Adams quickly became one of my favorite artists, as he turned in amazing work on titles such as the Avengers, Thor, Deadman, Green Lantern and (of course) Batman.

So when I heard he was returning to drawn a new maxi-series starring the Dark Knight, it was a foregone conclusion that I'd be buying it.

The art, of course, is fantastic. As always, it's incredibly detailed, lush and evokes a realism few others artists can approach. His layouts are unorthodox but powerful, as they guide your eyes across the page. The emotions of the characters are raw, and each page is just crackling with energy.

But while Adams may be a living legend for his artistic abilities, his writing resume isn't as robust, and this issue suffers a bit from having too many elements crammed into it.

We have a flashback to one of Batman's earliest outings, and like in the character's earliest adventures in Detective Comics, he goes into battle against crime carrying guns (which may seem at odds with his modern "gun hating" attitude, but it makes sense here).

We have an adventure unfolding with Batman and Robin (Dick Grayson) taking on the Riddler. We have a mystery surrounding the Man-Bat. And frankly, the last page in the issue makes almost no sense at all.

Perhaps it's better to have too much going on in a story as opposed to not much at all - but this issue feels overstuffed. I enjoyed the dialogue between the two heroes, but even it seemed too much.

Still, this issue would be worth picking up for the amazing art alone - and there's plenty of time for the story to catch up to the visuals. And I do enjoy the feeling of fun that runs throughout the comic - it's a rare treat in comics these days, especially for Batman.

I'll be back for the rest of this run. I've followed Adams this far, so there's no sense in stopping now.

Grade: A-

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