Batman #12 (DC Comics)
by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Becky Cloonan & Andy Clarke
Writer Scott Snyder takes a much different tack with this self-contained issue of the relaunched Batman, and it’s a welcome change of pace. The focus shifts away from the Dark Knight and his war with a secret society in Gotham to a much more grounded character study. Harper Row is impossibly competent and confident. Her skills with Gotham’s electrical grid defy credibility, but it’s easy to overlook how Snyder builds her up. She stands out as an admirable figure, someone who’s far removed from the complexities of Gotham’s better known residents. She’s a rebel but a caregiver, a protector and a nurturer. She finds wonder in things the rest of us ignore or take for granted, and she’s a self-made woman. One can’t help but be drawn to her. Adding to her appeal is the personality artist Becky Cloonan instills in the new character. There’s no doubt about it — one of the main reasons this character study works so well is thanks to Cloonan’s artwork. She somehow imbues the character with credibility despite the more incredible elements I mentioned above. While Harper, as presented by Cloonan, boasts a certain cuteness at times, it’s the strength she exudes that defines her, a quality that’s apparent in how Cloonan has her move, how she carries her face. Though Harper clearly lives as an adult and has become a surrogate parent for her tormented younger brother, Cloonan also grants the character certain child-like qualities as well.