In Batman #7, a girl named Harper saved Batman’s life. Now, five issues later, Scott Snyder gives us the backstory on Harper Row. Major Spoilers sat down to dig into the issue, and has a review waiting for you, after the jump!
Writer: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Aritsts: Becky Cloonan and Andy Clarke
Inkers: Sandu Florea
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterers: Richard Starkings and Comiccraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Batman: Having sifted through the lies, the mazes, and the accounts of the Court of Owls, Batman has come to the conclusion that there is no way Lincoln March could have been Bruce Wayne’s long lost brother. With the Court of Owls arc at a close, there is only one thing left unanswered.
In issue #7, Batman is brought back to life by a young girl with a van full of gear and doodads. Batman recognized her, and told her again to stop it. Stomping off into the night, readers were left wondering, “Who is this girl, and how does she know Batman?” The answer comes out in this issue as Scott Snyder spins the tale of a young girl who does everything she can to protect her brother from homophobic gang members, and an absentee father, who does more damage than good when he’s around. Harper Row, when not in high school, works for the city electric company, repairing and maintaining the city’s electrical grid. Her understanding of what makes the system work, and her ability to repair anything, comes in handy as she tries to fix her problems at home.
When the New 52 started, Bruce Wayne announced plans to improve Gotham, by rebuilding the Narrows and giving new life to those that live there. Harper’s apartment is one that will be torn down, and she won a ticket to the gala event to kick off the redevelopment. That tie-in gives Mr. Snyder a chance to connect Harper to the greater storyline, and this issue turns out to be a nice afterward to the tale, rather than an important chapter in story arc. Harper attempts to pay Batman back for saving her and her brother from gang members by tweaking his ghost system installed on top of the electrical grid, and helping during Batman’s encounter with Tiger Shark. Beyond that, there really isn’t much that ties into the greater Court of Owls storyline. Sure it is interesting, and sure it would be great if we see more of Harper in the series going forward – she might even make a great replacement for Harold in some way – but for those wondering if they have to buy this issue, I would say grab it if you want an origin story. Remember, people downplayed Bane’s origin story issue, and when he emerged to break Batman’s back, everyone scrambled to find that issue.
There are a couple of things going on in this story that don’t really line up right for me, and left me scratching my head. The first is having James Tynion IV come in for the final seven pages of the story as the co-writer. There doesn’t seem to be a real reason to have the two writers team here. Snyder appears to have had a great grasp on where he wanted to go with the issue, so I’m a bit perplexed. In previous (and future issues) Mr. Tynion and Mr. Snyder do work together on the backup story, but there isn’t one here, so again I have to wonder why.
The other thing that was odd from the story telling perspective was the final seven page sequence featuring Batman fighting the Tiger Shark. The scene isn’t the weird part, but the fact that editor Mike Marts threw in an Editor’s Note (something I love) informing readers that this happened in issue #3, when in fact, this scene doesn’t happen in issue #3 at all. Instead, that issue has Batman fighting the five gangs of the subway system, and no mention is made to Batman heading to the sewers looking for answers. Instead of confusing readers, the better call out would have been to state that this scene happened during the events of issue #3. One could say that is splitting hairs and being a bit too harsh, and that is fine, but it did stand out as odd from my point of view.
FIVE MORE PAGES, ONE MORE ARTIST
Becky Cloonan dos an excellent job on the art in this issue. I’m not overly familiar with her work as she has done interiors on titles I normally don’t read, but her work does stand out, and I would very much like to see her work on more mainstream DC titles in the future. There may be some that complain that Greg Capullo is absent from the issue, but considering we are viewing the events from a different perspective, the art shift works well.
Again, I don’t know if there is a contractual reason for doing so, but instead of a backup story done by another artist, the reader turns the page and are presented with seven pages of art by Andy Clarke. Mr. Clarke’s style is very different from Ms. Cloonan’s, and the jump (though spared by a double page ad) is very jarring. I don’t like sudden jumps in art if it isn’t done for a reason (flashback, change in perspective, backup story, and so on), so this really comes off as either A) there is a contractual reason for Clarke needing to do these pages, or B) Ms. Cloonan wasn’t able to keep up with the schedule. I really hope it isn’t B, because that doesn’t bode well for Ms. Cloonan to do work on other books, and I really want to see more of her art in mainstream DC books.
BOTTOM LINE: GIVE IT A CHANCE
There is a really good story being told by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV in this issue. The introduction of Harper Row has a lot of heartbreaking and depressing moments, and some really cool moments where the reader can see Harper becoming a more important character in the greater Batman story. Becky Cloonan’s art is refreshing, and the pages Andy Clarke work on make the book feel big. I personally don’t like the sudden jump from one artist to the other, but that is a peeve of mine, that may not affect the general reader. Batman #12 is a book worth picking up, earning 3.5 out of 5 Stars.