Headlines   2003 Review Index   August 28, 2003
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Michael Vance

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Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire

      Subtle is as subtle doesn't.

      To clarify, subtle storytelling involves readers by what isn't said or shown. When handled well, it is a powerful tool. When handled improperly, it is Batman/Deathblow.

      Make no mistake, this graphic novel about an assassin and Batman's attempt to stop him is powerful storytelling through both its writing and art.  But it does raise a question.

      How hard should a reader work to understand a subtle story?  One answer is: anything that makes it hard for readers to believe a story is bad.

      So, is one technical glitch too many?  Are two glitches the kiss of Deathblow?

      Let's hope that one isn't too many, because Batman/Deathblow has a big goof that stems from one aspect of storytelling, transition scenes.

      A transition scene is when readers must jump from one event and time in a story to another. It can be done with a caption like "Meanwhile…" which damages suspension of disbelief slightly because, in real life, narrators don't say "Meanwhile…" Or a transition may be done by making the art so obviously different in style between the two scenes that the reader knows he or she isn't in Kansas anymore.

      Batman/Deathblow tries often for the second technique, and fails.

      That means that one works very hard to keep time, characters and events in order. And that is a shame, because this wonderfully dark, gritty, reality-based story is otherwise marvelously intriguing. The art is exceptional, the plotting is brisk and tightly woven, and the dialogue is believable.

      So Batman/Deathblow is highly recommended for experienced readers, and recommended for novices willing to work harder.

      Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire/154 pgs. & $12.95 from Wildstorm/words: Rian Azzarello; penciller: Lee Bermeo/sold in comics and book stores.

      Review by Michael Vance

MINIVIEW: Fandom's Finest Comics #2
      Published by Hamster Press. Highly recommended second collection of fanzine art and story from the '60s and '70s. Sold at comics shops and www.billschelly.com.

      Review by Michael Vance


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