Friday, December 5, 2014

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga #22 Review

Written By: Jiro Kuwata
Art By: Jiro Kuwata
Cover Price $1.99
Release Date: November 29, 2014

The Revenge of Clayface (Chapter 3 of 4)

In American comics, having a story that's printed weekly can be incredibly good or incredibly bad. In Japan that same practice is more of an art form, often utilized by magazines to maximize the amount of the story that a publisher can deliver to its readers. Finally being able to finally read The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga in this style has been a blessing. 

Surprisingly, having a single person do both the writing and art for every chapter of the story also plays out better than American audiences would expect. Books like Batman Eternal have shown that a weekly Bat-comic is possible, albeit with a large creative team. Despite the fact that a page of manga is smaller than a Western comic book this book is packing a punch that the Bat-Family books have needed for a while in my opinion. Batman is The Dark Knight, there's no denying that fact but it's debatable if Batman has gotten too dark for his own good. 

Clayface was featured in the New 52 Batman book written by Scott Snyder about a year ago, give or take, and while I enjoyed the arc due to my fondness for the villain Clayface I can't remember falling head over heels for the story or emotionally investing myself in it to the extent that I am with Batmanga. Maybe this is the repressed side of me that appreciated aspects of Japanese culture or maybe this book is just my love of the spirit of Batman personified--but either way it's something beautiful. 

Batman and Robin continue their pursuit for the villain Clayface as he starts to make off with precious art, stolen from members of an elite country club. While its Bruce Wayne himself who first realizes something's up its Batman that swoops in to attempt to save the day. Along the way we're treated to even more of Clayfaces's phenomenal shapshifting with the highlight of this issue being a rather large snake that calls to mind the laughably bad film Anaconda I had the pleasure of seeing Rifftrax rip to spreads live last October. Seeing such a beautiful looking snake in a manga written and drawn circa 1967 really makes me question the effects behind a Hollywood production with an actual budget made nearly half a century later...but I digress. 

Truth be told I think that's what I love most about this book: the art. For me the real make it or break it on any book is the visual appearance of the story. You can have a phenomenal tale but if it isn't presented in a way that's visually inine with the story it won't hook me in. I can't speak for Jiro Kuwata's work process but you can tell he spent a large amount of time slaving away at a drawing board, to get the best art he could on the printed page. 

Bits and Pieces

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga is  eastern storytelling meets western super heroes in all the best ways possible. It almost makes me wonder what other DC heroes would look great getting the manga treatment by today's top manga stars. Overall this book has held itself steady and I can only hope it will slide through the finish line as strong as it started. 


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