This week “The Button” crossover begins in Batman #21, and Vampires stake a claim to Texas in Redneck!
Batman #21 (DC Comics)
As the first installment of “The Button”, Batman #21 has a ton of hype surrounding it. Picking up the pieces from the massive reveals in DC Universe Rebirth over a year ago, “The Button” storyline finds Batman and the Flash teaming up to solve the mystery of the smiley face button that Batman discovered in his cave. As one of the first major crossover events between two titles (Flash #21 will be part two) DC has been marketing this event for months now, even going so far as to bring back their (in)famous Lenticular Covers to entice fans and collectors alike. With this amount of marketing and hype surrounding it, there’s no way the Tom King written and Jason Fabok drawn issue could possibly live up to it, right?
Think again. Even if it didn’t have the marketing push it does, Batman #21 would still be one of the best issues of the year. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but this first issue wastes no time getting right into the mysteries of the button (which we all know the origins of), and delivers a break neck and stunning issue that will leave you begging for the next installment. From the moment you open the issue you are hit with multiple reveals and surprises, so much so that by the time the issue is over, you’ll want to go back to take it all in.
Tom King does a fantastic job of picking up right where DC Universe Rebirth left off, so if you haven’t been following Batman’s solo book (which you really should be), there’s no worry about trying to catch up. Literally all you’ll need to read is the Rebirth special and you’ll be good to go. King’s script is very light on dialogue in this issue, but he still gets some awesome one liners for Batman. The lack of dialogue might be a surprise for those expecting “big reveals” that DC has promised, but the brilliant pacing of the reveals in this issue will quickly make you rethink any apprehensions with this book.
As good as King’s script is it pales in comparison to the art by Jason Fabok. I know, I know, what else is there to say about this guy? Long time readers of these reviews already know how much of a fan I am of Fabok’s work, but Batman #21 serves as one of the best issues he’s ever done. He gives the book a kinetic feel that is irreplaceable. Sure, the action would probably still look good if someone else had drawn it, but Fabok gives this book a feel that is unlike any other. He’s not only the best artist in DC’s stable; he’s one of the best artists in the business period.
Batman #21 is, simply put, a must buy. If you were intrigued by the mysteries set up in Rebirth, it’s a must buy. If you’re a Batman fan, it’s a must buy. Hell, if you like comic books, it’s a must buy. While there may be a certain segment of comic book fans who will balk at what DC is suggesting with this storyline, it could have been executed a hell of a lot worse. And besides, it’s comics, so however this whole storyline shakes out, it’ll probably be retconned away in a few years anyways. But that doesn’t mean you should deny yourself this issue. Seriously, it’s that good.
Redneck #1 (Image Comics)
The best kinds of comics are the ones that sneak up on you; giving you a premise that you are sure has been done before, only to then realize that amazingly, no, no one has thought of this idea until now. Redneck is one of these comics. Focusing on a family of vampires in Texas, the Donny Cates and Lisandro Estherren Image series is a thrilling jolt of creativity that is engrossing from the first page.
The Bowmans live in Sulphur Springs, Texas. In fact, they’ve lived in the area for so long, they remember before it was even a town. JV, Bartlett, and Grandpa head up the clan, and they’ve lived a pretty quiet life in the Lone Star state. They live in a simple house, drinking a special cow blood and paint thinner concoction to keep their hunger at bay, and generally stay out of the business of the townspeople. But when some of the younger vampires decide to go into town to let off some steam, it sets off a dangerous chain of events for Bartlett and his family that could have disastrous results for their small clan.
God Country writer Donny Cates has been on a creative hot streak lately, and Redneck is no exception. Through Bartlett, Cates is able to express the world weariness of a creature that has lived for thousands of years in a new way. It could’ve been very easy for Cates to fall into the usual clichés when writing immortal beings, but amazingly he’s able to present the same ideas we’ve always heard in a new and fresh way. His characterizations of the other members of the Bowman vampire clan is great, and does a fantastic job of giving us enough information about the Bowmans without falling into the over-exposition trap that a lot of first issues fall into.
I’ve never seen Lisandro Estherren’s art before now, but it’s a perfect fit for this type of book. A lot of the pages here remind me of Moonshine, the werewolves meets gangsters book from Image. There’s no shortage of mood and darkness in these pages, and Estherren does a great job of presenting each member of the Bowman clan with their own distinct visual look. There isn’t a single member that looks the same.
Redneck is an awesome debut issue, and looks to be the start of another great Image series. If you’re a fan of Donny Cates’ God Country, American Vampire, or wished that True Blood was more about vampires than…everything else it was about, then you should totally pick this book up. This is definitely the start of something very, very cool, and is sure to be a comic book that will be highly sought after in years to come.