Favorite Comic Book Pages: Batman Year 100 #2, Page 26

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I’m always amazed how fans gravitate to older Batman stories like The Dark Knight Returns, Arkham Asylum and The Killing Joke when namedropping their definitive Batman story, especially when we’ve been offered some amazing stories in the last five years. If I had to choose the best Batman mini-series to hit shelves in the last decade, I would have to pick Paul Pope’s Batman Year 100, an alternate future story that gets right a lot of the basic things many in-continuity Batman stories get wrong.

There isn’t a lot I can say about Pope’s art that hasn’t been said better before. At a quick glance, his work can appear sloppy, but if you really take the time to see what he’s doing, it seems like his art is trying to jump off the page, as if the inks and colors can barely contain the action. One of the things Pope gets so right is showing a Batman that’s working. All too often, Batman swinging and jumping through the rooftops of Gotham is shown as if it were the easiest thing in the world, but in reality, it would be painful, sweaty and exhausting. And Pope is good at showing Batman as a human being, just like he does with this page:

Batman Year 100, Page 26

I love that dominating panel at the top with Batman hanging upside down, straining from his weight, his cape tucked under his arm to keep it out of the way…it’s just so real, so matter of fact. It makes Batman look so human, and heroic in the process.

If you haven’t read Batman Year 100, you’ve denied yourself an amazing Batman story with some sharp twists and turns. The chase scene that kicks off the first issue will leave you breathless. In many ways, I believe it to be as important today as Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was back in 1986.

3 thoughts on “Favorite Comic Book Pages: Batman Year 100 #2, Page 26

  1. This is my first real exposure to Pope’s work, and if it’s an example to form, then he’s got a hell of a method at work here. I’m going to assume he’s doing his own inking on his own pencils.

    He’s not a loose penciler – the drawings are grounded and fastened to the page. If he was being inked by the wrong person, they might even come off stiff and flat and overly rendered. It’s the inks that pop these images off the page – alternately smooth jelly lines and bursts of spatter. These inks are fucking agressive, preditory.

    My most recent Bats exposure (aside from Batman: Year One) are from the stories where he faced down Swamp Thing in Gotham from the 80s Alan Moore run. This is a Batman who is more ghostly and aloof (though also just animated when needs be and as obsessed with his end goals). Moore very interestingly makes Bats the villain of the piece, twisting his narrow-minded obsession with protecting Gotham into a fascistic hatred of everything peaceful, organic, and inclusive without depicting Batman as a frothing caricature. I’d argue that when Lex Luthor enters the mix, Bat is rendered even more ineffectual next to this super genius with corporate and state backing (and we’re reminded why even though he’s a mortal, Luthor is still the ultimate Supes nemesis, with the way he eliminates Swampy-by completely disconnecting him from the Green and exiling his consciousness to DEEP SPACE).

    I belabor the Moore digression because you mentioned Killing Joke, which I believe is the worst, most off-base and completely wrong wrong wrong examination of the Joker character and his relationship to Batman ever committed to paper. It’s popularity and gospel status in the Batman Mythos baffles me. Baffles, I say. But Bolland’s art, natch, kicks ass.

    Geek out!

  2. Pope is hit or miss with me, but there’s no denying his talent even when I’m scratching my head. His Batman story is great. I can’t properly explain to you how the action just leaps off the page. The panels are practically shaking. It’s amazing.

    I do believe he inks his own work. I’ll have to double-check that.

    Thanks for sharing your Batman thoughts. I remember those issues too. But for me, when it comes to Batman, it’s always about Jim Gordon. I know I’m repeating myself, but if I were to ever work my way into DC, I’d be fighting tooth and nail to write a Gordon monthly. No kidding.

    It’s taking me a long time to come around to the problems inherent in THE KILLING JOKE, and it continues to amaze me how selective DC has been about which parts of the story to keep in continuity. You’re right. It’s completely wrong on nearly every level, except, of course, Bolland’s art.

    I mentioned THE KILLING JOKE not to encourage it being great, but because unfortunately, it continues to be seen that way.

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